The Most Expensive Curtains In Britain

Historically I’ve worked for Paul on corporate lighting gigs, pushing flight cases around early in the morning, plugging in dimmer racks at point A, hanging very heavy moving lights from point B, running miles of cable between points A and B. Hanging around whilst Paul absorbs vast amounts of stress. Yelping in triumph as some of the refreshments laid on for delegates are diverted to the crew. Then lifting very heavy moving lights off trussing, unplugging dimmers, coiling up cable, pushing flight-cases and finally getting to bed the day after tomorrow. Now I know what it’s like to write the cheques for that kind of gig and it’s shocking!

Creative Partnerships National Office commissioned a large scale performance workshop from us (Sonic Journey) to take place in the huge Great Northern Hall at GMex in Manchester. We had fun planning the event. The project marked the return of the excellent Giles Perrin and was a chance to call together a large number of Stan performers, get Brian Duffy back in harness and Ana out on the road – so good in many ways. We were told to plan, initially for 800 delegates over two workshops, then 500, ultimately 100 walked through the doors, so it was a minor miracle that the thing held together as well as it did. This is all pretty much beside the point, which is how unbelievably expensive the whole exercise was.

We have learnt that when you hire a space in a conference centre all you get is the empty room, everything else you have to hire in. You want lights in the roof? You have to hire the dimmer racks, the truss to hang the lights off, the chain and motor winches to lift the trussing and of course you can’t plug the dimmer in yourself for fly the trussing, you have to pay through the nose to get one of the venue’s ‘approved’ people to do it. Given that it’s pretty much a closed shop these approved people don’t come cheap. Some where along the line we also picked up a £300 surcharge for failing to send someone plans a fortnight in advance. Of course the staging has to be hired in and the curtains… surely the Lord Chancellor when he did up his offices didn’t spend as much on his curtains. Admittedly ours were bigger, but they were only up for a day.

With all this money flying around you’d think the service would be pretty hot. Not a bit of it, our man from MCL was nice enough but the GMex staff made you feel you were invading their space not paying through the nose for it. I admire Paul more than ever for managing to operate in this environment on a regular basis – I couldn’t.


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