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Underneath the Stars (slightly smaller) a success!

“It was quite amazing and the feedback from customers has been wonderful” said Festival Director Emma Holling.

“An overwhelming sense that the team have managed to pull of something quite special and we’ve received a lot of thanks from workers who have been able to practice their trade or musicians able to perform in front of an audience, for a very long time.

Our approach throughout has been to put the safety of our customers, crew, artists and our wide community first.  Therefore, we proceeded with a reduced capacity event, incorporating the principals of social distancing and the various protocols of Step 3 guidance.  We moved the entertainment and facilities largely outside, eg from two stages within marquees to one outdoor stage and had zones with wide access lanes, so that audience could choose their own space to view the music.  We were literally Underneath the Stars for the first time.  Our signage gently encouraged people to give others space or indicate where mask wearing was required.  All those working, from artists to volunteers to caterers, were required to take lateral flow tests in advance and agree to our Covid management protocols.  Our Safety Officer and Covid Supervisor helped ensure compliance.  Customers were advised, but not required to take tests and we did manage a lot of last minute Covid related refunds.  Barnsley Council were particularly supportive and keen to see the event go ahead.  As we are a Community Interest Company, they were able to provide us with an amount of Covid-related PPE and resources.

We faced a number of challenges over the actual weekend.  We had been prepared for volunteers to drop out and the rate was quite significant; we had made some advance contingencies and were able to manage this ok.  We also knew we were likely to lose artists, and we lost four in total at around 24 hrs notice each.  However, thanks to some advance thought and a good contact list, we were able to replace artists at even the highest levels, with names that delighted and did not disappoint.  We’ve received a lot of praise from our customers or “stargazers” for this.

This has been an incredibly challenging time; thanks to our small but amazing team and the support of our volunteers, together with financial support from the CRF, it feels like we have pulled off the impossible.  It’s hard single out individuals, but there are a few colleagues I would like to mention.  My fellow director and the Festival’s Production Manager Peter Sharman from Isophase Audio kept the whole show running to the highest of standards in all weathers.
Lauren Barker did an amazing job communicating our Covid safety messaging to customers – if you’ve not seen her videos and signage, they are a wonderful example for all.  Eddie Barcan of Splendid Events for his all-round event management support and ability to magic up replacement acts.  We’d also like to thank you and the AFO for all your work in providing information and lobbying on our behalf.”

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 5th Aug 2021 17:21:00

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