Now, I like to be in control as much as the next person, I have learnt over the years that if I want something done properly and in good time, then I can't rely on others to do it. This year was no exception unfortunately, despite the fact that I really needed the help, and asked for it on a number of occasions. I had a couple of people step up to help, but, helpful as those people were, somehow it didn't work out, and I ended up being made to feel a little useless on the day due to my apparent lack of foresight.
I don't know if I genuinely misunderstood them, or if I really just am that stupid, or if I should just ignore their upset comments and trust that I did everything I could to get this festival going, despite being under more than the normal amount of stress this year, and that their frustrations were not my fault.
It did go well, the students taking part had no idea of the things going wrong behind the scenes. Somehow, little old me managed to get 13 school choirs together, for 13 hours, provide them with 4 really amazing choral/stage workshops and then give them a night of performance opportunities a lot of them will likely never forget. That has to be a good thing, it's what this city (and this country) needs. A bigger push towards getting kids from all backgrounds involved in positive extra-curricular arts activities, by allowing them to join choirs which aren't focused on classical/arts music (generally considered boring, elitist and old fashioned). Singing music they listen to daily, singing in groups, holding harmonies and still working towards excellence. Having the chance to put their work on show. Keeping ticket prices low so that all parents feel able to come and be involved on the night. That's my vision for this festival, and so far it is working.
So why, after yesterdays mammoth effort of coordinating everything, looking after everyone, applying for all the funding, liasing with all the schools, and keeping everything running smoothly for 13 hours straight, after nearly ten months of planning, do I feel like I somehow failed?
Because, despite all the positives, the only things I can think about is everything that went wrong.
- I (wrongly apparently) assumed that my main help was handling ALL the technical stuff. I thought he told me that a sound check should be about getting them on and off the stage and singing perhaps a line of music, that they should need no more than 3 minutes to do that. So that's all I timetabled for sound checks.
- I also wrongly assumed that the schools would arrange to bring their own copies of the massed item music for their singers - some did, some didn't. Again, my main help questioned what I had done about this on stage in front of everyone, so obviously, I felt crap. Despite the fact that I had sent out music months ago to all schools and requested that they bring their own copies.
- I felt rubbish about how knackered everyone was - the workshops were awesome, but by the end, the kids and presenters were completely shattered. Clearly I had overestimated what could be achieved.
- I also had somehow managed to get all the way to the event without arranging a stage crew, runners or front of house ticket takers. It's not that I hadn't thought about it, I'm pretty sure I even asked someone else to arrange it, but it just didn't eventuate.
- Parents complained because they were seated behind performers who constantly stood up in enthusiasm and blocked their view. I am in two minds about this one - yes I see their point, perhaps seating them at the front next time would be better, however I am focused on this being a very student orientated event, so I refuse to budge on having them sit anywhere but in the auditorium so they can watch the concert.
- There were major parking issues, heaps of people got parking tickets for parking in non parking areas - double yellow lines, on curbs etc. Our festival ran 20 minutes later than anticipated (which to be fair is not very late in school concert terms), and they were not happy. I again am focussed on the students, and feel that if you are going to park illegally, then don't get upset if you get a ticket.
So, there is clearly a lot to think about for next time. I am now so tired I can hardly move from my bed. I took advantage of the post show excitement and emailed out to all the teachers about forming a committee for next year. Ideally, I just want to ensure that my vision and philosophy behind this event doesn't get distorted. That it remains student not profit focussed, and that it is as low cost to parents as it can be to ensure that choral singing doesn't get put into the 'elite' music category. I want to take a back seat now. I feel that things are well established, and that if a few people take over and share out the jobs, then it will run smoothly. More brains, more ideas, less oversights.
I have had a resounding yes from 3 people, and I know that my helpers from yesterday will definitely be on board.
This project means a lot to me, and I want to see it keep going. Yesterday was essentially a massive success, and I wish I could feel as excited as other people are about it.
Do you ever feel like you've failed despite everyone else telling you how amazing you are and that what you did was incredible?