With the exceptional summer in the UK, festival season has been basking in a bumper year and happy images of crowds enjoying their outdoor experiences in glorious sunshine are being published on a weekly basis.
Parks and open spaces which are usually empty green grassy areas morph summer-in, summer-out, into temporary villages where tens of thousands of people gather to celebrate main stage performances and other activities on offer. The images have been sunny, dusty and with not a rain cloud in sight!
And for the first time, this year, Gunnersbury Park in West London has seen part of the festival action, hosting Lovebox and Citadel Festivals which took place in mid-July. Pearce Hire continued working with their client MAMA Festivals (a Live Nation company) as long term contractor at these festivals, supporting the festival re-location with their award winning temporary power infrastructure and site lighting services.
Jake Vernum, Project Manager for Pearce Hire, explains: “At Pearce Hire we relish a challenge, and know the team at MAMA Festivals incredibly well – this being our eighth year working with them on these festivals. With a well-established format for Lovebox and Citadel, we needed to ensure that we played our part in providing a seamless transition for these large events as they moved from Victoria Park, East London to West London. We’ve been focussed on ensuring we gave exceptional support to the MAMA team throughout the moving process and on-site at this new venue. We are keenly aware that our services were integral to ensuring Lovebox and Citadel offered as good, if not a better experience for the 40,000 festival goers attending each day across the three-day event.”
Gunnersbury Park was an unknown quantity in terms of hosting a major inner-city festival of this size, and so detailed planning for power and site lighting infrastructure was critical from the start of the process. The undertaking was not insignificant – with 7 stages, 15 bars and concession facilities, VIP areas, backstage working areas and production village, a small campsite for festival staff, and important brand sponsors (including Corona, Kopparberg and Smirnoff) to accommodate. Plus approx 2,500 crew and staff across the site (based on exit capacity) to ensure the 40,000 daily attendees were safe and well provided for. Pearce Hire sent in a core team of five, increased to a dozen crew for build and break and spent almost three weeks on site.
“Working across a new site was the biggest challenge this year” reflects Jake. “The site was really pleasant, and whilst it was smaller in footprint it was very spread out and safety and crowd management was at the top of the list – we needed to ensure our site lighting supported the ingress and egress points and we needed to be flexible in our approach to change things as required by health and safety. We provided x30 tower lights across site and 100% LED festoon to ensure all site areas were sufficiently lit”.
“From a power point of view, we had several generator locations with both standalone and full synchronised sets. In total there were forty generators across the site. We really scrutinise the spec from our client and make sure we keep the generator sizes and numbers down to improve efficiencies. And of course we do all the usual monitoring of power consumption in order to advise on ways to improve consumption and generator provision going forwards.”
An important aspect of working on festival sites for several weeks is crew welfare, something Pearce Hire as a company, places a great emphasis on. Jake explains, “as well as ensuring the site is safe and secure for the festival goers, we need to ensure our crew are safe and looked after. It’s long working hours, and in the exceptional weather this summer, crew welfare becomes even more of a priority. If you treat your crew well, then it makes for a happy work environment and reflects on the job and the service we provide. Our working space at Lovebox was bigger than usual, and this is better for the crew. There was even space in our boneyard for a sofa and a hammock for outdoor living! We have an excellent pool of freelance crew who Pearce Hire call upon to support the permanent team during busy times, some of them have been working with us for years as regulars – they are great crew and so we make sure we look after them and they repay us with their loyal service year-on-year.”
MAMA Festival’s Production Director Dave McCalmont comments “Pearce Hire’s professional approach to our brief is perfectly pitched. We’ve always considered them to be an integral part of our team, rather than an external contractor. We trust Jake and the team implicitly with the temporary power and site lighting for Lovebox, Citadel, and other events. You know that their attention to detail will ensure reliable service of the highest quality and they’ve been a big part of the planning in the venue change.”
“Moving to a new site this year was great – it was a new challenge and added a new dynamic to the festival,” concludes Jake. “Whilst Lovebox and Citadel will undoubtedly have regular year-on-year attendees, I’m sure the move meant these great festivals were introduced to a whole new West London audience as well! For us it keeps our regular festival commitments interesting…and let’s hope the sun shines in 2019 like it did this year!” laughs Jake, as he gathers his thoughts and turns his attention to the next event.