Event Organising 101 with Duckpond

This article was first published on Youth Central, November 2014.

Organising events is what Duckpond loves doing and what he does best.

As an event producer, Duckpond works on all kinds of events. Since 2011 he has been producing the MONA FOMA and Dark MOFO live music and arts festivals in Hobart. At one of these festivals he turned a laundromat into a “Laundro-disco”, a disco in a laundry room where washing machines were used as DJ mixing tables and entry was via a slide.

He’s also no stranger to the music industry, having previously toured around the world with rock bands such as Oasis and Happy Mondays as a stage lighting technician. In September 2014 he helped put together The Alexander Technique, a five-hour performance, dance and fine food extravaganza in Melbourne.

The name “Duckpond” is a quirky one, not a name that you hear everyday. His friends gave the Melbourne-based event producer that nickname when he forgot to plan a picnic beside a duck pond in Sydney in his younger days. Along with this peculiar name, Duckpond sure has a warm personality. He loves organising events with others and hopes both performers and attendees at his events have a good time.

You’ve worked on many events and festivals locally and internationally. Tell us in your own words: what do you do as an event producer?

As an event producer I basically work directly with people of various talents and skills. I aim to get people together to collaborate, to deliver special events, whether it’s small gatherings or big festivals. I enjoy the challenges and making things that people only can imagine happen.

Teamwork is a big part of organising events. You’ve collaborated with many from the arts and entertainment industries, such as creative agency Supple Fox as part of MONA in Hobart. Do you enjoy working with your creative peers on events?

Absolutely. When you’re collaborating positively, you can sort of feed off other people’s ideas and inspirations – it often sends the project in a different direction. If you take impressions and advice from people with different viewpoints, often you have a much more interesting product at the end.

What is your schedule like when you’re working on an upcoming event, especially if it is an event that takes place over the weekend? Do you work seven days a week?

I work 15-day weeks. No weekends, just fifteen days in a row. You make the arrangements with the people who own the venue where you want to have the event and then you make arrangements with people who are going to bring their equipment, whether it’s musical equipment or lighting.

And then you make the appointments and arrangements with the performers, the artists that you want to bring in. The size of the event will determine how many people you need to get involved and how long you need to spend on it.

What’s the best part about being an event producer?

Watching artists do something very creative. It’s great to see an audience have a good time. It’s also great to do things where people might adjust their perceptions about certain things in the world, events where people actually experience something different.

I think that well-planned events can actually have a great, positive influence on people’s health, on their mental wellbeing and their happiness.

You’re currently working on establishing a multi-purpose artist and musical space in rural northern Tasmania. What are some of the goals you hope to achieve through this project?

To be able to give people, musicians and artists and sculptors and writers opportunities to come to a beautiful natural environment. An environment where they can relax in a very natural setting and then be creative in their own time with very few distractions of modern life, without phone connections and emails.

What advice would you give to a young person aspiring to get involved in the events industry as a producer or a director? What skills and knowledge should they have or be willing to learn?

I think perseverance is a very important thing. Along the way, we often have small obstacles that might come in our path. But I think the secret is to work hard and to have faith.

Would you encourage them to attend as many events as possible?

It’s definitely a good idea to investigate and see what other people are doing with their events and with their projects. Obviously everyone’s got their own areas of interests and where they would like to specialise.

For young people interested in producing or organising events, I think it’s very important to do work experience programs. Go and offer your services to festivals or producers or concert organisers or art galleries, wherever your interests lies.

Every arts and culture organisation has a different way of doing things. It’s good to see what people are doing as audience members. But it’s also very good to see how it all happens behind the scenes.