With champions including Meghan Markle and Bob Geldof, One Young World has become a global phenomenon, meaning the pressure is on for OYW’s Creative Events’ Agency partner Private Drama Events and MCI.

CREDITS: Private Drama Events was responsible for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and produced all plenary conference sessions across the whole three-day conference. MCI produced the two side conferences and the volunteer management. Private Drama Events produced the main conference sessions over the three days.

As 2,500 aspirational young people descended on the capital on 23 October, the pressure was building in the Albert Hall, where Access caught up with Private Drama Events’ CEO Adam Blackwood as Brit School students put the final preparations into their impending performance.

With Greta Thunberg capturing the world’s attention, it couldn’t be a more appropriate time to draw attention to the issues close to young people’s hearts, Blackwood tells Access. “As the event enters its tenth anniversary, young people are coming to London to talk about the issues that matter to them from microplastics and carbon footprints, to FGM. Private Drama Events is proud to curate a show for this young, inclusive, multi ethnic audience from around the world.”

True to the spirit of the event, Blackwood’s curation celebrates diversity of talent and inclusivity. “Everything we perform has a resonance of one of the event’s key issues, like gender fluidity – which is handled in [a performance from musical] Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, or the celebration of the common man, in the musical number Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” he says.

“Everything you see and hear here we have curated. I work with a producer, but we have very good contacts with the disabled community via Graeae Theatre Company and Candoco, we work with the National Centre for Circus Arts, the Guildford School of Acting, ArtsEd, Brit School, and we drew them together to make sure its inclusive and representative.”

Time was very much of the essence for Blackwood and his team, with the tendering process, which took place in February, still fresh in the memory. As we spoke on the day of the big event, he talked us through the tight turnaround times. “It’s incredibly challenging. We got into the Albert Hall at 4am this morning, and we’re putting together a two-hour show, akin to West End musical, in about eight hours. We have 250 performers and 700 people backstage, including the flag bearers. It’s a huge operation.”

Private Drama Events had recruited 700 people to work on the event from lighting designers to production crew, including White Light, to provide technical and stage management support across the two venues (Royal Albert Hall + Westminster Central Hall).

Despite Blackwood’s experience at ‘almost every venue in London’ this was his first time at the iconic Kensington concert hall. “It’s been a learning curve as it’s a huge space and you need a lot of people to make it work,” he says.

Of course, given the venue and the city’s prominence, Private Drama Events were keen to inject some of the local atmosphere. “We open with the poem All The World’s a Stage, by Shakespeare, which is fitting as we’re in the city that houses The Globe and so much literary history. We then go into London’s Calling by The Clash. It’s a way of saying, ‘we’re here and we want to change the world’. I look at other year’s events and wanted to make it my own and bring together the UK’s talent.”

Private Drama Events also worked with talent from the event industry, including White Light, the Albert Hall’s internal supplier, the venue technical team, and their own lighting designer within a ‘very challenging’ budget. Meanwhile, Studio Giggle was contracted to create content for the One Young World 2019 opening ceremony’s distinctive heliosphere screen. 

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MCI’s role

After Private Drama Events bought the curtain down on a blockbuster opening ceremony and moved to producing the main stage conference sessions, One Young World’s events agency partner, MCI UK and MCI The Netherlands provided full event management services, including the instrumental role of volunteer management.

During the week, MCI ran several stages including BP’s Advancing Energy and Jaguar-Landrover’s I-Pace Stages. MCI’s event professionals were joined by a group of keen student volunteers from UWC Atlantic College in Wales. 

The students were encouraged to volunteer at One Young World because Atlantic College shares many of the same values: it was designed to promote international understanding through education, to break down national barriers in education, and to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.

Every year the Summit recruits volunteers from the host country to assist with the operations of running the event. For the 2019 Summit, 80% of volunteers came from London whilst the remainder travelled from other regions in the UK and internationally.

Volunteers supported the Summit at every given touchpoint of the delegate’s journey from their rousing volunteer welcome upon arrival in the UK to hotel check-in. Donning hoodies in One Young World’s trademark blue, volunteers played a crucial part in the Summit and became recognisable points of contact for delegates, providing key events information, local city knowledge and most importantly a friendly face.

For some delegates attending One Young World’s Summit was their first experience of travelling abroad or visiting London. Each volunteer’s job was to ensure that every delegate felt welcome and comfortable in the city, empowering delegates to make real change in the world.

Volunteers supported the Summit in many roles including VIP hosts, accessibility champions, stage assistants, directional support at venues, registration helpers, opening ceremony flag team assistants, press support, news writers and photographers.

James Hampton, One Young World volunteer management lead said: “It’s been incredibly rewarding for MCI to manage the entire volunteer piece at One Young World, from application selection through to meeting each volunteer in person and working alongside them onsite. We took heart hearing each applicant’s motivations for volunteering and their personal stories. The 10th One Young World Summit would not have been possible without the 300+ volunteers who dedicated their time, energy and enthusiasm to this remarkable event.”