As part of Impact’s coverage of Summer Party, we had a chance to catch up with this year’s Summer Party’s Student Planning Team and Gemma Chance (event co-ordinator) ahead of the big day.
So, it’s 9 days to go before the big day. How are you feeling?
The enthusiasm of the group is immediately evident as they excitedly tell us how they are greatly anticipating the event. One student claims he is “overcome with excitement”, at which point the friendly and visibly cohesive team all laugh. Gemma admits a little anxiety, but consents with general mood of excitement.
How long have you all been preparing for this day?
After a short deliberation, Gemma tells us that the Student interviews for a place on the planning team took place at the beginning of February. Gemma explains that she initially began her planning at the end of November – which she admits was quite late to start – but this was largely due to the amount of changes that were being made following the previous years losses.
We don’t want to draw upon the problems of last years event too much, but many of our readers are keen to know what changes have been implemented this year to prevent the same thing happening again?
Gemma describes how the Summer party used to be run by student services and JCR’s in years prior to this, who historically always made huge losses and lacked guidance and organisation without the involvement of the Students Union. “We’ve had also had a really strict and realistic budget”, she tells us. “Each area has had a really strict financial plan and we have actually under spent in some areas. This is one of the most difficult things to do for student groups to do sometimes, especially when we’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of pounds! We havn’t spent money on things that we havn’t needed to spend money on and have generally been very careful”. A final year student also adds that the mix of years within the team has helped with the event promotion as well as sharing the workload. They agree that because of the mixture of ages (ranging from 18 to 22), they have been able to ensure that there is a real diversity of acts and something for everyone to enjoy.
How has the dynamic been within the team?
Kelly, the only fresher and youngest member of the team, explains “we all know exactly what we want as the overall result and each of us are really determined to make it the best day it can be. Everyone puts in the effort and we all make sure that there is good communication within the team”.
Have there been any big obstacles you have had to overcome along the way?
“Gemma deals with those!”, quickly admits one of the final year students . The group naturally all laugh and look to Gemma, who sympathetically responds, “I interviewed something like 60 odd students and the six students selected for this committee (plus an extra two who international students have been assigned to the organisation of the fancy dress parade) each had something that just stood out. The nice thing is the real mix of students that we have as a result, and it hasn’t been like that in previous years under the former structure”.
Kelly, this role is quite a lot to take on, especially in your first year. How have you found the experience?
She explains how first year should be all about making the most out of everything,“instead of going out to Ocean and Crisis my involvement in Summer Party has put me in good stead for a position next year, and I would recommend more first years to get involved in as many things as possible”.
What have been the highlights of organising the event?
One of the students answers, “getting the acts together has been really exciting, and it’s been cool getting everyone’s diverse tastes together.” Collectively they decided that ‘Human Bowling’ has probably the highlight of their planning and the thing they are most looking forward to on the day! (Go to the ‘Eat, Drink and Play’ tab on the summer party website for further details about activities during the day).
Can you tell us a bit about the process of how you selected the line-up?
Kelly: “We wanted to get a good mixture to ensure a variety of performances. It’s no good just having one main headliner because otherwise it just becomes one very expensive gig! Within our budget we’ve got mainstream headliners as well as two student bands and some bands (such as Dutty Moonshine) that we know have been successful at other festivals.”
Finally, two thirds of the tickets have been sold. Why should the remaining students reading this interview go online and buy their tickets?
“Human bowling!” is the instantaneous response from one of the students.
Gemma feels confident that “students who have been to previous summer parties will notice a massive difference this year when they walk onto the events site as this year has really stepped up a notch.” The group explain that there is also going to be much more of a ”festival feel” this year. Everyone will get a festival program to go round your neck, in addition to lots of side stalls and freebies from sponsors (including Cadburys!). They emphasize, “Summer Party is a really good way to enjoy the end of exams with your friends and is a great way to get the summer started, getting you in the mood for any other festivals you may be going to!”