Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Down in the valley: design for a festival

The inaugural Chalke Valley History Festival is over, and by all accounts is was a complete and magnificent success. Most gigs sold out; parking, catering and ticketing all flawlessly organised. Three days of speakers from Michael Wood to Amanda Vickery, Greeks, Romans, Georgians and some horrific Popes all being explained with passion and knowledge; all sounding good. And all being heard. There was a professional air about the whole thing. They seemed to know about PR and stuff, and not one hand-painted sign... Wow, and all in Bowerchalke, in deeply sleepy Wilts.

Jameses Holland and Heneage had the idea; finding favour almost immediately from a slew of impressive names (Antony Beevor, Max Hastings to name a a couple)  and after a lot of work by a huge, dedicated and happy team of volunteers – the Chalke Valley Cricket Ground (one of the beneficiaries; the other being Help For Heroes charity) is now as it used to be before; without the massive marquees and the portaloos. Not to mention the stylish (ahem) flags and signs. I was really happy about being involved; I've moaned long and hard enough about design not really being appreciated in the country – its being a bit of a mystery –  that I had to do something just to prove my point; so that the people who never want to spend any money on graphic design get a chance to see how it can make a difference.

Originally the cover was a wrap-around, and thanks to the tenacity and optimism of Rachel Holland; I was only left with the front to fill, and I think given a bit more time we would have had to sacrifice even that space for some more lucrative advertising.

Casual observers, (well, fairly committed observers since the type size is minute ) will see my design credit and Dave Stallard the printer's company squeezed onto page 2. The printing was excellent and Dave, as well as Steve Whitbread, at Printing Ideas, were as committed and helpful as everyone else. Even down to advising me on the finer points of artwork! But soon, here and on the website will appear a list of credits as long as an evening shadow. This was an example of something succeeding beautifully because the idea was followed up and executed by everyone involved with precision and enthusiasm.

Apart from James Heneage and James Holland (who is, along with his brother, Tom, a best-selling historian), the co-ordinator in chief and finance officer was Peter Bell who kept on top of things with with incredible clear-headed zeal. George Ashe who sits nearby developed an on-line ticket system in a stupidly limited time. He and Hannah Bell who manned the booking office, were responsible for converting the idea into currency.

Another big moan I have about doing business in the country is the comical amount of time that usually passes between sending an email, or leaving a message, and receiving an answer. When I was putting the artwork together for the brochure, I was working very closely with Rachel Holland who was selling advertising space. To my shame, I think I'd written off the idea of getting sponsors – we had a couple – and the thoughts of more advertising were receding as we were so close to copy date, when I found myself having to make space for more sponsors, more half pages, then full pages...  She would only stop when I said there was no room for the Inn. She had the B and Bs queuing up. I could only give myself a pathetic high-five as the artwork finally disappeared into the night to hard-pressed Dave Stallard. (I know Rachel's energy was directed elsewhere later, but she actively got a school to re-think its image as a direct result of her persistent coaxing!)

Bin Scaburri, who was in on this from the start was instrumental in getting speakers to agree to come and importantly to send photographs to adorn their biographies, which she and James Holland diligently edited to a measly but necessary clump of words.

As the graphics got more and more diverse and last-minute, Pam Clover almost answered my queries before I'd asked them. Posters, bookmarks and an ad in Salisbury Life were all calmly chased up by her and I didn't have to make one phone call. She and Elli Lanyon, who was in charge of distribution, were always on the case.

And interrupting Pam's gentle missives were daily messages of public relations successes; Alex Hippisley-Cox was steering the festival towards more and more exposure and public anticipation. You thought, this better be good. And, I think it was.

James Heneage
James Holland

Finance and planning:
Peter 'Ding Dong' Bell

Rachel Holland

Alex Hippesley-Cox

Ab Ashton-Johnson
Pam Clover
Elli Lanyon (distribution)
Bin Scaburri
Penny Marland
Helen Harvey

Pat Weeks
Emma Cuff
Andy Brown
Ian Fowler
Martin Holland
Paul Sampson
Dave Gooden
Sue Bourne.

Emma Verdin
Bin Scaburri  
Ticket Desk and Checkers:
Hannah Bell
George Ashe
Ted Fry
Ian Nason
Alex Hippisley-Cox
Pam Clover
Ab Ashton-Johnson
Tommy Hooper
Elli Lanyon
Annabel Walters
Sandra Maurer
Sue Wharmby
Ashley Truluc

Bar Managers:
Nick Woolgar
David Brown

Bar Staff:
David Brown
Nick Woolgar
Joe Brewer
Simon L
Tom K
Phil Hill
Mark C
Ian Newman
Nic Goodridge
Paul Boatwright

Main Car Park:
David Brown
Barry Goodbridge
Big Dave
Jamie Bundy
Ian Newman
Joe Brewer
Mark C
Harry B


Mark Farmer
Matt Tandy
Paul Boatwright
Hugo Armstrong

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