Building A Venue
Method has delivered projects across a spectrum of event spaces, ranging from greenfield sites in rural locations to city centre build-for-purpose venues. We recently used the full breadth of this experience when assisting Broadwick Live in establishing a new festival site in London. What is now called The Drumsheds in Enfield was originally comprised of 4 lofty derelict warehouses and an adjoining 10 acre outdoor space, hidden by a thick carpet of overgrown vegetation. We were engaged by Broadwick Live to help turn this collection of unconventional spaces into a multi-purpose venue, capable of hosting a range of content from high-capacity music events to big-budget filming projects. In this article we break down four key steps taken when building a venue:
The first step is to explore and assess the site and its surroundings; identifying the key characteristics and limitations that may affect how the site is used. These typically include the available space, immediate H&S concerns, perimeter security, vehicle and pedestrian access points, ingress & egress routes, transport links and service capacities, local residents and businesses, and local authority support for licencing and planning applications. Licencing and planning applications often present the most significant hurdles, so it is prudent to engage relevant stakeholders during the preliminary stages, gauging support for the proposed use and development of the site. A detailed feasibility report brings together key findings, and suggests headline figures for audience capacity, operating hours, and the type of activity or event the space is suitable for. This report is often used to gain further support from stakeholders and authorities, and to allow financial decisions on the viability of the development to be made with confidence.
Once the pinch points and broad parameters for what is possible have been identified, we usually create a number of event models that work within the confines of the space. Templates for site layouts, ingress and egress routes, operating schedules and contingency scenarios define a range of uses that can be offered to promoters and hirers, allowing the market to be tested before significant financial outlay. These event models are led by the owners' aspirations for monetising the space, but are informed by the findings of the feasibility report. It is at this stage that premises licence and planning applications can be submitted to validate the space for it's new use, keeping all stakeholders informed throughout the process.
The next step involves designing and installing the infrastructure and utilities required to prepare the venue for operation. Existing structures and landscapes are to be made usable and safe, with additional infrastructure installed to secure the perimeter, create the appropriate entry and exit points, demarcate public and back-of-house areas, introduce signage, lighting and connectivity networks, and install any house production equipment required as a base offering for hires. The design and layout of this base infrastructure can range from a wholly versatile blank canvas space with a secure perimeter, to a fully-equipped venue with office facilities and production assets. As event producers ourselves, we understand exactly what is required and which items will be superfluous, ensuring that infrastructure changes offer the best possible value.
Having shaped the space, defined the event formats, and earned the trust of key stakeholders and local authorities, it is time for the maiden event. Managing incoming hires, ensuring compliance with agreed rules and procedures, and protecting the licence are integral parts of venue management. Visualising, planning and building a venue; witnessing a previously unappreciated space be enjoyed by thousands is some of the most rewarding work we do - and it's a privilege to assist Broadwick Live across their incredible portfolio of event spaces.