COVID Considerations - Take note then take part!

Take 5 with the Team

Hold on to your hats and… Here. We. Go!

I get that rollercoaster feeling every time we launch registration for the festival. Months of nervous and careful planning, trying to dot all the is, cross all the ts, anticipate every eventuality, and then the gates open and…. well, this year, a pandemic came along, so as with everyone else, all the planning was thrown up in the air as we went into lockdown. Time and tide stop for no one though so here we are in June, and wonderfully, we’ve just thrown those gates open again. So grab a cuppa, strap in, and read on for your behind the scenes rollercoaster round-up!

Lockdown – The station and the fields

Bunting helped set the scene for our online cafes - chatting to organisers from across England about their lockdown inspirations.

Soon after lockdown began the team had to leave HODs HQ, and we still haven’t been back. The office attic is gathering dust, a tin of tea sits atop my locker awaiting my return, but the home office cupboards are well stocked, and the dining room desk is doing sturdy service. For 2 months, my colleagues, the A team (Andy + Alex) were sent out to tend the frustrating fields of furlough, while I did my best to hold the festival’s home station alongside our comms crew. It was a strange time but hosting a series of online ‘Community Cafes’ connected us to local organisers across the country in a new way. Checking in and chatting with friends old and new was all the joy and inspiration needed to keep the festival engine ticking over, ready for…

Relaunch – relighting the fire

Still pink and blue but brand new! Andy's super guide to help us plan a new festival format.

After months of carefully monitoring government guidance and conversations with the community, we were ready to recall the A team and prepare a new timetable for the festival. Alex’s eagle eyes honed in on reworking our database for a revised festival format, while Andy pulled together a new guidance pack for organisers in record time to introduce the idea of going digital. After a frantic fortnight we did it, registration has reopened, and the festival train is back on the tracks, ready to roll out of the station once more. With 49 submissions before the email had even reached the whole community, it looks set to be a great ride!

So what happens now?

As ever, local people and their stories are the heart of our festival, and we’re doing everything we can to help highlight them. Right now we’re setting up webinars to help organisers plan and tweaking the website ready for showcasing these new-look events from late summer. It’s not about all the bells and whistles though. It’s not about having the most glamorous place, or the snazziest tech (though they’re welcome too!). It’s about bringing people together (even if we have to be apart) to share their stories– it’s about discovering something new, about something you thought you knew. The gates are open, come join the ride, we want to hear your story - where will it take us next?!