The pandemic caused many long-time industry experts to leave their professions or switch roles, and those that stayed are in high demand. That means that you won’t necessarily be able to hire someone just because you trust their decades of experience. You’ll likely have to practice vulnerability in re-building trusted relationships. Hiring someone will be based more on their personality and ability to communicate and learn, versus prioritizing their impressive resume.
“We have to learn how to dance together again. Choreography is what it’s all about,” says Hunter Gray of The Special Event Company. “A lot of these companies don’t look anything like what they looked like before, so we need to figure out how to dance again. It’s as simple as that.”
Gray advises approaching all the team leads and ensuring you know what they need to be successful, but also where their weaknesses lie. Let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes—the point is for everyone to come together to problem-solve quickly.
Suzanne Down of Cirque Berzerk recalls how her team came to the rescue at the BEA Awards, when the venue cancelled their aerial act last-minute. Instead of letting disappointment get in the way, the team redesigned the dramatics and “stayed in solution mode,” as Down put it, to replace the aerial with a rising stage and pyro effects lining the catwalk. “It was a last-minute adjustment, but the team was fantastic, and the final picture was a success.”
Ted Bowers (Strategic and Technical Consultant for Haute) can also speak for how important it is to have a creative and communicative team: the multi-day “Arabian Nights” event was interrupted by the largest storm to ever hit that region. With flooding and other dangers, the client made the call to move the entire event indoors—and once the weather cleared up, to move it back outdoors. Everything had to be adapted to new blueprints, but because Haute had an excellent team, they succeeded. “Our local producer and crew were fantastic. Our team worked around the clock to finish in time,” says Bowers.
Taking time to meet with all parties involved before the event, as well as having a solid communication strategy, is vital in this new era of young talent. “There are a lot of new faces that need mentorship,” says Gray. “They need the wisdom that unfortunately has left our industry, and I think they show a lot of potential. And there are a lot of people that through the pandemic thrived in developing new skillsets.” Create the space for communication and flexibility, and it won’t matter if your team is comprised of veterans or new faces. The talent and willingness to make an event succeed is what counts.
"When you have great people to work with and surround you, you can create some pretty magical experiences,” says Gray.
Want to learn more about creating the perfect stage design? Click here to read our article "Set That Stage."