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The PNE Two-Step

2009-07-22Where in the world am I today?: Driving from Vancouver to Red Deer… 12 hours plus in the car… Yowza!

So… I’ve spent much of the past week scrambling to get three ‘bonus’ slots at the Pacific National Exhibition filled with entertainment. I consult with the creative director of the fair on the selection of acts and piece together a line-up that provides a diversity of act and meets the budget that the fair has to work with. It’s been a great adventure since I started doing this five years and typically the selection of acts happens early in the new year with actual contracts going out around April or so.

A little over a week ago I got an email saying that the Fair had received additional funds to expand the program beyond the acts that we’d booked back at the beginning of the year. I went in for a meeting at the Fair exactly one week ago, promptly posted a quick note on Facebook and sent out emails to a few select people… With in hours I was in-undated with responses from people who expressed interest in snatching up one of the three 17-day long slots and I started the process of assembling a revised line-up for the program.

I’d make suggestions to the creative director, he’d ask for more options, I’d come up with more options but preface these with each act’s availability. Tuesday – Friday ┬álast week I was staring at my computer screen a lot pitching ideas, responding to people who were expressing interest in the gig and scrambling to pull it all together. It soon became apparent that to get an interesting cross section of talent we were going to need to look at splitting up each of the slots in a sort of job-sharing scenario. One act handles the first part of the run and another act covers the rest. In the end we came up with six acts to fill the three slots.

The other interesting thing that happened was that the slots seemed to get filled one at a time with confirmation on each coming in on different days. Slot one got confirmed the day after the meeting (July 15) and contracting started the day after (July 16). Slot #2 got confirmed yesterday with contract information going in today and slot #3 was firmed up today.

I think I felt a bit more under the gun on this because I’m leaving today to drive to Red Deer for Centrefest and really wanted to have the bulk of the work done before I left. Right after I return from Red Deer I turn around (might have time to do laundry) and fly to Peru for a holiday during which I don’t anticipate bringing my computer or being connected to the Internet all that much.

It’s a weird little gig for me this consulting thing because I act as the middle man between the client, the creative director for the PNE, and the performers who are typically my friends. The challenge comes from not really feeling like it’s ‘MY’ program. Sure I only suggest the people who I think will work best for the gig based on my experience in this world, but the final say as to who gets brought in remains in the hands of the Fair. I’m sort of like the kooky uncle who gets to come to the party, but it’s not really my party. The big upside to this scenario is the fact that when the party is over I don’t have to do the clean up, so it’s pretty alright really.

2 Responses to “The PNE Two-Step”

  1. […] the phenomena of persistence came at me from the perspective of the talent booker. When I had to scramble to find more acts for the Pacific National Exhibition recently I got to experience varying […]

  2. […] work I’ve done with the PNE Street Stars Program over the last five years has kicked up a gear or two as I’m looking at what I want my role in […]

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