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The Backstage Puzzle

By Melissa Wilson

Not many visitors at exhibitions comprehend just how much goes into executing a seamless, efficient and dynamic event. Lighting, rigging, sound and floor surfaces often go un-noticed by the untrained eye, judging the event in its entirety and not looking further to see just how many pieces need to fit into an event’s puzzle.

“An exhibition is only as good as the people involved make it. It’s obvious to say, but each event really is a sum of all parts and based on concise planning, clear communication, and flawless execution,” said Matthew Pearce, president, Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA).

“The most important part of staging a successful event simply lies in people doing their job properly – each person becoming part of the team and executing their responsibilities in the best way they can – and being able and ready to adopt contingency plans which may be necessary due to unforeseen human and equipment errors. Any experienced supplier, AV crew, event manager or venue staff can vouch for how vital contingency plans are in this industry!”

What appears to be one very gloamourous event, Rosemount Sydney Fashion Week,
like most events require huge amounts of unglamourous work backstage to ensure success.

Staging Rentals & Construction Services’ managing director David Comer agrees, emphasising the importance of team work.

“These days, there’s no limit to what’s possible in exhibitions and events. Due to budget cuts and economic pressures, clients are looking for creative ways to stage unique – not necessarily mass – events to communicate to people, and it’s largely the responsibility of backstage personnel to ensure objectives are achieved,” said Comer.

“Backstage at any event you need an outstanding production manager, bringing together all the different elements that create an event – the coordination of lighting, sound, staging, talent – everything. Backstage is usually full of energy and adrenaline. The best way to describe it is ‘organised chaos’ as everyone runs around to ensure their tasks are on schedule.”

Australian Exhibitions & Conferences operations manager, Karen Thomson, paints the picture too. “Backstage at an event is never what the visitor would expect – it’s quite unglamorous and crowed with gear and production team members. It’s a direct contrast to what is seen front of house,” she said.

“The crucial element to backstage success is having a functional space – every bit of space has a purpose to make what is happening on the other side of the curtain run smoothly.”


To read more pick up a copy of the November 2009 issue of Spice magazine. When you subscribe to Spice magazine, you get 6 issues of the latest news, industry trends, event reviews, interviews with industry greats, all the tips, tricks and hints you could possibly want for organizing your next event, incentive or teambuilding activity. At $69 it’s an inexpensive way to be in the know.

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