This year, a few of the Piquant team volunteered to help organise Féile na Gréine, a 3 day music trail in Limerick city. Hugh, one of our graphic designers and a co-founder of the festival, set about reliving its humble beginnings, and the process of taking it to the next level for 2019
How to put on a festival with your friends
Why not? It’s a good question to set things in motion.
In the early days of June 2018, during a blistering heatwave with no end in sight, myself and a few friends asked this question. Why not put on a festival? We couldn’t think of many reasons why we couldn’t, so we did. Before we came to this decision we had all been organising small scale gigs for a number of years. Jack Brolly and I had been running a club night called Lower Your Expectations while Ger Devine, Diarmuid O’Se, Rachael Brennan, and a host of others had been running a gig night called DIYLK. We were, in essence, a group of musicians, sound engineers, DJs and designers. We had all the elements needed to pull together a large event, we just had no idea how to go about it.
What followed was a weekend of savage Irish music, late nights and dancing until my legs gave out. I saw bands like Messyng make hummus from scratch on stage while they belted out trippy electronic bangers. I watched rapper Hazey Haze get up on a bar counter to give an impromptu performance. I moshed at the front of a sweaty, shoulder-to-shoulder Post-Punk Podge set.
We came away from the weekend exhausted, inspired, and ready for Round Two.
We began preparation for this year’s outing with many learnings from the previous year. For the sake of brevity, I’ll make you a list of my favourite.
1. Many Hands Make Light Work
In 2018 we had a core team of about 10 people or so, doing everything. We were able to pull it off but it didn’t leave much room for improvement. If we wanted to grow, then we would need more hands on deck.This year we have over twenty people working tirelessly behind the scenes, from sound engineers, to illustrators and cooks to social media managers. Our roles are singular and focused with the aim of increasing the quality of every aspect of the event.
2. Delegate Delegate Delegate
One person cannot be in charge of social media, collecting artists from the train station, artist payments AND press outreach. One can try, but one will fail on all counts, or at best do a mediocre job. We cannot afford to let anything slip between the cracks, when so many different plates are spinning, so this year we enthusiastically delegate jobs, tasks and roles to anyone willing.
3. Be Sound
In a time where music is streamed freely and big festivals forgo payment to independent artists we want to support artists in anyway we can. That can be as simple as paying them (a novel concept) for their hard work. In fact, this advice goes beyond running a festival. Use this in your everyday life: Be sound and support local music. Your efforts will not go unnoticed.
4. Give Yourself Time
There are few universal truths in this world, here is one of them: 4 weeks is not enough lead time to prepare and promote a 3 day event. This year we have been working behind the scenes for months now, meaning we can do far more and at a far better standard.
The transition from 2D to 3D
One of the first tasks this year was addressing our visual identity. I wanted to keep our visual assets abstract but we needed texture, timbre and rhythm, elements that would better reflect the music we host. The transition from 2D to 3D can often be a jarring one, but by holding tight to our other identifiable brand assets, typography, colour, and shape, our transition was organic and felt natural. A benefit to utilising 3D graphics is the ability to visualise the abstract and the impossible in a photorealistic sense.
The resulting work was created with the aim of depicting unexpected moments, and if there has to be a theme to this year’s identity I guess that would be it.
Creating moments that defy your expectations and that truly surprise, hopefully in a joyous and entertaining manner, is what we are all trying to do with this festival. A brand is formed when a visual identity works in tandem with the goals and aspirations of an organisation. This process takes time, requires constant work, but it must stem from a union of identity and ethos if it is to work. This festival is a great example of that balance.
Passion is infectious
This year, many members of the Piquant team have generously volunteered their time to create a targeted and comprehensive promotional campaign. Lyndsey Hall has taken the role of social media strategist and orchestrated an online campaign that makes the previous year’s attempt pale in comparison. With much appreciated sponsorship from Piquant, we were able to run a social media advertising campaign, allowing us to reach a very receptive audience outside of Limerick. And with a more coordinated and strategic approach to our social media efforts, we were able to massively increase our reach online. Meanwhile, Graham Patterson has once again utilised his skills as a filmographer to document our behind the scenes efforts in a captivating promotional video distributed through our social media channels. A campaign such as this cannot be executed by one person. We were lucky to have so many talented individuals and professionals willing to join our team and enthusiastically work for the success of the festival. If this year has taught me nothing else, it is that passion is infectious.
Becoming bona fide
On the financial side of things we made some huge leaps forward, with sponsorships from all venues, a print budget from Wired FM, a digital budget from Piquant Media, a drinks sponsorship from Langunitas and a Creative Ireland grant from the Limerick Arts Office. Not only did this take a huge pressure off of our team and allowed us to focus on the event and expand our offerings beyond what we initially thought possible, but it was a massive boost of confidence, this level of support from local and international companies and even the state itself was a sign that our efforts were being recognised. We were no longer seen as a bunch of friends putting on a show, but bona fide festival organisers.
As I write this Féile Na Gréine is almost upon us again. The final touches are being put in place and the artists are about to make the journey to Limerick. This year will be a wild and unexpected celebration of Irish arts in Ireland’s cultural capital. So why not head to Limerick this weekend and celebrate with us, in other words, be sound and support local music.
Féile Na Gréine is a 3 day, not-for-profit, music trail that takes place across Limerick city from 16-18 of August, hosting Irish independent acts and artists.