Deborah Armstrong, founder of event design company Strong & Co, says chaos is a vital event element
We’ve witnessed festivals change from counter-cultural, often underground events to a mainstay of the UK music and events industry. We feel a constant pressure from the very digitalisation of life to apply new and efficient administrative control systems to events that were conceived : by Anarchy.
Festivals are hugely logistically challenging, they need to be organised and safe. There’s a danger that too much automation, tick boxing and prescription can result in the oxymoronic ‘organised fun’ rather than in the formation of a truly meaningful experience.So here I am standing up for the right of everything not to be too orderly.
Saying that, people are often surprised by the depth of organisation we apply even to small installations – we produce multiple linking spreadsheets because the best creativity needs a certain level of structure in order to thrive.
But when those very control systems start to impinge on the ability of organisers to produce new exciting elements, to create a wonderful experience – the very thing that they were bought in to enable – then it’s really time to question if the balance is off and how to address it. The very best festivals balance the ‘yang’ of control with the ‘yin’ of chaos. The very best festival organisers know that their systems must have room for uncertainty and play.
The Greats of the UK Festival Scene, stars like Michael Eavis, and others I’ve been lucky to work with like the late John Reynolds, are masters of this. They intuitively understand the importance of keeping ‘the random element’ in the equation.
By creating experiences that have allowed room for the reprobate to flourish, for Creatives to flourish, to take risks and even to fail, they have been the most memorable, the most game-changing experiences of all.