As event managers, we apply human creative skill and imagination to bring events to life. Our events are a representation of imagined landscapes and human settings. Events are about people. They are the moments, occasions and incidences that mark our lives.
BY SANDRA MEHLOMAKHULU
They are a portrayal of human aspirations, relationships, cultures, environment, and style of living and human development. Events are essentially about human behaviour and our human stories.
Event management is, for all intents and purposes, about organising people. It is the application of project management skills to the creation and development of large scale events such as festivals, conferences, ceremonies, formal parties, concerts, or conventions.
In executing a mandate, an event planner must invite appropriate speakers, co-ordinate décor settings, provide catering, invite the relevant people, and play appropriate music. It involves a lot of operational management skills that are centred on people.
Event managers go to great lengths to create aesthetic settings that invoke the human spirit and senses. Events can invoke feelings of excitement, celebration, youthful energy, joy, contentment and pride. An outstanding event manager applies artistic creativity to create new and experiential experiences.
The novelty of the event experience will bring to life things that people have read about in books or seen on television. Through the new event, one experiences what one has imagined and art becomes life through events.
People make an event. They determine its popularity, success, significance and set the tone. People at an event are the actors and audience, simultaneously.
By being there, they are part of the landscape. By performing certain protocol and doing activities within the event, they are the artists that create the landscape. The people at an event assist in determining the mood of the context. People at a funeral show mourning, distress, sadness and a sense of loss. Those at a wedding are jovial, hopeful, carefree and congratulatory.
Those in an army parade may appear serious and combative. Those providing training to students are instructive and mentoring. Those at an awards ceremony will appear celebratory as they are presented with awards.
The people at an event will also lend credibility to the celebrity factor of certain people at an event. Fans of a particular celebrity will cluster around that famous person. Protocol will be focused on the celebrity and the entire shape of the event will accommodate the celebrity.
The art of fashion has become embedded in the art of events. Fashion is an expression of our humanity and an accepted art form. It is an expression of our culture, socio-economic and geo-political changes.
Many view fashion as a depiction of a style of living. Fashion at events has become a major talking point. Therefore, invited guests of an event spend much time, money and resources searching for the perfect fashion designer and outfit for the upcoming event. Personal mobile gadgets allow people to be their own photographers.
People will take pictures of themselves showing their outfits before they go to the event. They will then post these pictures on social media. Encouraged by several on-line compliments, an event guest will arrive feeling confident and relaxed. This will also create more excitement about the pending event.
Those watching may feel inspired to go to the event or another similar event.
Event fashion and the celebrity factor are often intertwined. People may become celebrities based solely on their style of clothing worn at events.
And because they are celebrities, some people will insist on wearing something custom-made in order for them to stand out from the crowd. The fashion industry will use the celebrity of certain people to market their brands. To market brands, people have to be seen at events.
The dress code of the event must be followed to ensure that the appropriate tone of the event is set. The dress code is a guide for guests to know what to expect in terms of the event format. A casual dress code suggests a more informal event programme while a formal dress code indicates a more rigid event programme.
Event photography and social media
Event photography is an extension of the art embedded within an event. Through pictures of events, people can make many and varied interpretations about the ambience of the event. Event photographers use their artistic skills to portray the emotion, the activities and the protocol and historical significance of the event.
An outstanding event photographer will portray the protagonists of the event. They will show the reaction of the audience to the main speaker or musical artist. The photographer will demonstrate the scope of the popularity of the particular musician or actor. The photographs of an Oliver Mtukudzi or Jah Prayzah concert will demonstrate their popularity and the excitement in the crowd.
Photography as an art form has more of a voice in the digital age.
Event photography is of great significance. There are more ways in which event photographs can be distributed. Social media allows more people in different locations to have concurrent access to events. People may have insights into events that they did not attend because they can view images from the events.
As event managers, we must embrace social media because it creates talking points around our events. We can distribute photographs of our events on social media and get feedback from a wider audience. The audience of our art is much wider and feedback channels are more open. Objective people living in distant locations can now comment on the event by looking at the event photographs.
Feedback allows event managers to know their strengths and identify areas for improvement. The positive feedback will push an event manager to create more events and build on past success.
Social media gives event managers an opportunity to inform the public of upcoming events and build excitement for their future projects.
Typically, social media is bombarding us with a plethora of messages about varied topics. We need to sift through social media. Typically, our attention is caught by messages that are displayed though artistic posters or fabulous images. Social media is a new and effective medium of communication. Social media is a novel way to showcase many forms of art, including events.
Events often involve sound and music. Music can invoke human emotions and it makes us express emotion by dancing, laughing or crying. Musical arts have become a part of events or are at the centre of many events.
Outstanding event managers are conscientious about the sound and music of their events. This is very important in building the ambience of an event setting. Music that is too loud or sung by an unpopular musician may annoy guests. Music and sound must be appropriate to the event design to ensure event consistency.
In another new event development, musicians have started incorporating light techniques into their staging. This creates a captivating visual display that heightens the impact of the sound of music. In many ways, these light technicians are being viewed as artists expressing themselves through a new medium.
l Sandra Mehlomakhulu is a founding director of Notegate. Notegate specialises in business and marketing strategy, research and event management.
*This article was contributed on behalf of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, a leading body of marketing professionals promoting professionalism to the highest standards for the benefit of the industry and the economy at large. For any further information kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website on www.maz.co.zw.