Event Producer Resources
The Odditorium, Midsumma Festival 2019 by Suzanne Balding
Everything you need to know about producing your Midsumma Festival event
Well, 2020 sure has been a whirlwind of surprises! Artists, producers and venues have all had to make adjustments to handle an uncertain future. Like most of you, here at Midsumma, we've also had to reassess our plans for 2021.
The recent restrictions released by the Victorian Government show that gatherings of scale were unlikely to be approved in time for Midsumma Festival to operate at our usual time of January to February. This information has guided us to enact an “understudy-plan” to move Midsumma’s 2021 festival dates.
Midsumma Festival 2021 will now fall between 19 April to 5 May 2021 with Midsumma Pride March planned to follow a few weeks later on 23rd May 2021.
Due to the tough year for our artists, producers and collaborators, we understand we need to be as flexible as possible. We have high optimistic hopes to produce a guide for Midsumma Festival 2021 but if event registration numbers are low at the end of the first stage of registrations (14 Dec), we will make the decision to forgo a guide for this festival only. This decision will help us to be as flexible as possible and keep our open-access registrations open as long as we can.
We will keep registrations open to assist artists and producers to be able to register their event when they are able, and continue to develop the best possible program for our audiences for 2021. If we do not produce a guide, we will still continue our Festival campaign as usual, while expanding our digital promotional campaign, providing our artists with every possible promotional opportunity we offer year-on-year. Audiences will (as usual) be able to find all of our Midsumma Festival events on the Midsumma Festival website, and search for particular events in our What’s On menu.
Registrations Stage 1 – closing 14 Dec 2020
If you register your open-access event before 14 Dec we will include your event in the Midsumma Festival 2021 Digital Guide and the first round of our marketing campaign following the Midsumma Festival 2021 launch event.
Registrations Stage 2 (Website Only) – closing 7 Mar 2021
If you register your open-access event after 14 Dec but before 7 March you do miss out on being in the Midsumma Festival 2021 Digital Guide, and a priority listing in the first round of the Midsumma Marketing campaign that will kick off at the launch, but you will still have a dedicated listing on our website and will still be included in our campaign once your event has been processed by the Midsumma team.
* if you see our festival has started (after 19 April) and you still want to join our festival, please email [email protected]. You can register your open-access event with Midsumma Festival at any time, but we're a small team, so it may take up to five days to get you on sale and on our website. We will do our best to get you on sale and included in our marketing campaign as quickly as we can!
We take pride in delivering a premier festival each year and by moving our festival dates mid-year, we hope to put our artists, producers and venues in the best position possible to deliver an accessible festival that connects our communities and celebrates queer arts and cultures.
The full Midsumma Festival 2021 program will be launched in mid-March 2021. We are working hard to create the best Midsumma possible in 2021 and are so excited to celebrate queer arts and culture together again, stronger and more resilient than ever!
Read more about our date change HERE.
* If you are looking to register your Midsumma Festival 2021 event, make sure you visit our Open-Access Event Registrations page first.
Ten hottest tips for putting on your event:
- Build a team. Surround yourself with people who are on the same page as you and bring skills to the project that you don't have.
- Find a venue that is suitable for your event. If you need a venue, be sure to lock one in quickly and do your research, as not every venue will be the right fit for you. Check out further information below about finding your venue, search for a venue with the venue finder on Eventotron (our event registration system) or head straight to our Venues Database.
- Create your COVID Safe Plan. It is extremely important to work with your venue to ensure you are following all the necessary COVID safety requirements. You will be required to create a COVID Safe Plan for your event in collaboration with your venue. Have a look at The Victorian Governments COVID Safe Plan resources and start preparing now.
- Develop a budget early. Writing up a budget is a great way to think through all the different aspects of your event. If you're seeking funding, research a variety of grant options and consider the timelines for these (never put all your eggs in one funding basket, just because you submitted an excellent funding application doesn't mean you'll be successful). It is important to also think about how social distancing might impact your budget, with the venue potentially having reduced capacity. See our Budget template and Funding Resource below for more resources.
- Be organised and plan! Write a timeline, and talk to others who have done similar events to get a sense of what lies ahead!
Secret hot tip: start your registration early – you can see the whole process from the beginning and you don’t have to pay until you are ready to finalise. It is a great way to see what you might need to plan for.
- Get a professional photographer to take a VERY good image for your event, which you will use to promote it.
- Plan your marketing. Who are the people you think would like to come to your project and how will you tell them about it? Check out our Marketing and Publicity section below for more tips.
- Think about risk. What are all the possible challenges and potential risks that could go wrong with your project? Think of these things and work out solutions or mitigating factors. See our Safety section below for more information. In this current COVID-19 climate, it is important we think about health risks and how we can enjoy ourselves while minimising the risk.
- Is your project accessible? Consider ways in which people with disability might have barriers for accessing your event and check out our Accessibility resource below to learn more about removing barriers.
- Are you aware of all your legal requirements? Do you need an example venue or artist agreement? Do you have public liability insurance? Will you need to take out a work cover policy? Have you applied for music rights? See our Legal resources for more information.
- Have fun!
Producer Updates are emailed to Midsumma event producers every few weeks. It's really important that you read them and forward them to anyone else in your team who might need to be across important information from us. They are full of exciting opportunities as well as tips and advice for running a stellar Midsumma Festival event.
The Producer Updates
This year, Midsumma will be presenting Digital Producers Workshops for you to watch at home!
Access and Inclusion Info Session by Program Manager, Patrick Hayes
Midsumma Festival Event Registration Info Session by Program Manager, Patrick Hayes
Please note: the video above refers to the previous registration closing date of 24 August. This is now incorrect as registrations are now open until 7 March 2020.
We'll be releasing more Digital Producers Workshops as Midsumma Festival gets closer. Topics covered will include;
- Timelines, Budgeting and Crowdfunding Money
- Getting an Audience! Marketing and Publicity
- Risk Management, Legal Things & Being Organised
- Festival Wellbeing and Problem Solving: How to Be There for Yourself and Others
All Midsumma Festival Producers will receive email updates about new Digital Producers Workshops for Midsumma Festival 2021 when they come out.
Registered Event Producers are granted a license to use the new Midsumma logo on promotional material (posters, website, catalogues, etc).
There are strict guidelines around the use of the Midsumma logo, and we require a minimum of 48 business hours to approve any material that includes the Midsumma logo. Send your promotional material to [email protected] for approval.
Download the current Midsumma logo suite.
There are many things to consider when choosing a venue; and looking at the following list it is also important to have these points in written agreement, as ambiguity can cause unneeded stress and confusion.
We've made a list of prompters for you to consider when looking at venues:
- How will this venue function if there are Social Distancing measures in place? What plans are in place if the restrictions change in the future? And what is the venue’s policy on cancelling events?
- How accessible is the venue? Consider wheelchair access (including wheelchair accessible bathrooms), availability of hearing loop or other services, etc.
- Is the venue sensitive to queer communities and identities? Does it have non-gendered bathrooms etc.
- Can you afford it? Will the income you are expecting from the project be enough to pay for the venue?
- Make sure you include any extras costs that the venue may charge such as technical services, front of house staff, equipment hire, etc.
- What can the venue do for you? Ask if the venue can provide you with additional support for free, such as marketing support, staffing and equipment hire.
- What is the location of the venue? Is it easy to get to via car, public transport and bicycle? What is the location of the venue in relation to the anticipated audience demographic of your event? Is this where your audience live or work?
- What's the vibe? Is this the right setting for your event? It is very important to understand your target audience and to choose a venue that is likely to appeal to them.
- Are there any technical restrictions that will affect you realising your event? Some things to consider are restrictions due to sound bleed, liquor licences, capacity and the type of electricity provided (ie. do you need three-phase power?).
- What are your venue's licensing regulations? If your event is taking place in a licenced venue, underaged persons may not be able to attend depending on the time of the event, and the venue's licence.
- Make sure you thoroughly understand the conditions of the venue hire before committing.
You can search for venues with the venue finder in Eventotron. Log in to eventotron.com then go to Venues (top menu), click Advanced Search and choose Midsumma Festival from the dropdown list of festivals.
We've compiled a list of venues across Victoria – it's a rocker resource if you're on the hunt for a venue. Please keep in mind that a lot of venues have been going through hardship in the current lock down and may not be available/willing to commit to a show at this time.
Other Venue Resources
Great venue guides can also be found online, for example:
- Arts and unique venues can be found at Creative Spaces.
- More mainstream and grand venues can be found at A List Guide.
- Inner-city spaces that are often slightly off the beaten track can be found at Hidden City Secrets.
- Community halls and venues can be found at Halls For Hire.
- Function spaces, corporate events can be found at VenueMob.
- Have you looked at the list of participating venues from previous years? Check out the 2020 Program Guide, the 2019 Program Guide, the 2018 Program Guide or the 2017 Program Guide to see where others have held events that might be similar to yours.
Marketing and publicity are two of the most important steps to realising your event.
Six short tips about how to market your show:
- Shoot an eye-catching promotional image.
- Write both a short and long blurb that clearly describe your show in an engaging way.
- Compile a compelling and succinct media release to send to journalists.
- Think of your hook! Why do people want to come to your event?
- Develop a strategy and timeline around how you will reach your audience including a social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter), e-communications (emails), print (posters, flyers), website, blogs, online listings, etc. You don't have to utilise all the mediums – choose one or two platforms and do it well!
- Bring someone onto your team who can focus on marketing and publicity. It's a lot of work and you'll be busy producing your event!
Midsumma's media partners offer special rates for Midsumma events:
- Mr Moto Flyer printing and distribution, email Mark via [email protected]
- JOY 94.9 radio station - Promotion Packages for Midsumma events, [email protected]
Here's a couple of Melbourne based PR teams you may like to engage for your own publicity:
SASSY RED PR
Sassy Red PR is a Melbourne-based publicity business that was created with a strong focus on working with independent artists and companies, not for profit, and other small to medium arts organisations. Since its launch, Sassy Red PR has worked with hundreds of companies and shows, and thousands of artists, offering creative and cost effective PR and marketing solutions.
Sassy Red PR
P: 0419 664 108
Encore PR are all about getting you noticed by the media – magazines, newspapers, radio, online and TV. Services include: setting up interviews with journalists, reviewer and VIP media invites, competitions/giveaways, clever launch concepts/events, profile stories and Q&As, creation of photo opportunities and stunts, concept creation and management for blogger events, biography copywriting, feature article pitches, writing and placement and... a range of other creative ideas that come to them at 3am.
P: 0439 639 139
If early on you plan how you are going to spend your money, there won't be any nasty surprises further down the track.
The best advice we can give you when looking at funding is to start early! Many funding rounds close three months before they notify you of an outcome, so be sure to plan ahead!
Also remember that Midsumma can in some cases auspice your funding application, if you are not a registered not-for-profit. Contact the office to discuss if needed.
Check out Sassy Red PR for some great tips on Grants, Support and Funding Resources.
Go to our list of grant sources to get a taste of some of the funding opportunities on offer:
If you are running short on time and you've missed out on funding rounds, you might think of options such as crowdfunding, donation campaigns or even sponsorship.
Crowdfunding is an online fundraising campaign for a specific project where you raise money directly from your network. You set a fundraising target, people pledge an amount that they would like to give – usually in exchange for some form of reward – and the amount pledged is remitted to you if the target is reached. Read Crowdfunding Basics for more about crowdfunding.
Some crowdfunding and donation platforms to check out:
- Pozible - Pozible is an Australia-based crowdfunding platform and community-building tool for creative projects and ideas.
- Go Fund Me - Over $3 Billion raised for personal causes! GoFundMe is a fundraising website to raise money online, often utilised for social causes.
- Kickstarter - Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. A home for film, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, photography, and more.
- Indiegogo - Indiegogo is where entrepreneurial projects come to life – amplified by a community of backers who believe the world benefits when every idea gets an equal opportunity.
- Australian Cultural Fund - The Australian Cultural Fund is a fundraising platform for Australian artists, managed by Creative Partnerships Australia. This platform is not a reward based approach and every donation above $2 is tax deductible.
Sponsorship is when a company gives you support (cash or in-kind) in return for recognition. There are a number of different types of sponsorship such as major partners, small cash sponsors and in-kind supporters. For all partnerships, you need to consider how this will be a mutually beneficial relationship and what the association means for both parties.
Major Partners: These take time, are often difficult to secure and work best when they are a meaningful reciprocal relationship. If you see a compelling alignment with another organisation, have access to a contact and a long lead-time...go forth!
Small cash: These types of sponsorship arrangements are easy to negotiate and are more likely to be with companies who have the flexibility to approve cash support on short timelines. What contacts do you already have in small businesses? What organisations share your values? Is there a thematic link between the project and a particular organisation? Think creatively...
In-kind: This is when a company or individual provides goods or services as opposed to cash. Consider what your project requires. Are there opportunities for a company to support you by providing something that you have already budgeted for? Do you need specific equipment for your event? Could a marketing or printing company provide services pro-bono?
Further Tips and Resources
- Creative Partnerships Australia: Sponsorship 101
- Circuit West: ‘How To' for Corporate Partnership and Sponsorship Proposals
- The Financial Times: Corporate arts sponsors' cash earns perks and mutual benefits [possible paywall]
Please note: all sponsorship arrangements are between the Producer and Sponsor. Midsumma is not liable for any dealings and cannot guarantee any benefits from the festival.
Inclusivity and diversity are at the heart of Midsumma Festival. As such, we're dedicated to making the festival accessible to audiences with disability.
Here is how you can help
Learn more about access by attending our Access Workshop. Midsumma runs a workshop on audience accessibility. You'll hear from our friends at Arts Access Victoria and learn about ways you can make your event accessible and how to reach audiences with disability. Date to be announced soon!
The extra bonus
If you provide an accessible service (such as Auslan interpretation, Audio description, Tactile tour or Relaxed performance), Midsumma will promote your event to the community that requires that service.
Seven Tips for a More Inclusive & Accessible Event
- Gender and Sexuality Inclusivity
- Think about the language you use
- Is your event wheelchair accessible?
- Auslan Interpretation
- Audio Description and Tactile Tours
- Relaxed Performance
Tip 1. Gender and Sexuality Inclusivity
At Midsumma, we actively encourage full diversity at events regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
What's on the bathroom door? Ask your venue to use gender neutral signage on bathrooms to help trans and gender non-binary peoples feel more comfortable at your event. Signs that advertise the facilities available, rather than describing the attendees, work best. You are free to download and use our signs: toilet, urinal or gender neutral and accessible toilet.
For more ways to create an open and respectful environment at your event read through Midsumma's Inclusive Language Guide. This document contains definitions, explanations and handy tips that are useful in avoiding making assumptions about a person’s gender or sexual orientation or using language that can cause offence. Download the Inclusive Language Guide >>
In some instances Gender and Sexuality Exclusive Events can be necessary to create a safe-space for a specific community. If this is your event, you may like to consider the following:
Communicate why your event is exclusive. A few sentences on your website and briefing door staff can be helpful ways to convey the exclusive nature of your event. Imagine if you turned up to an event and weren't allowed in – you would want a friendly explanation!
Tip 2. Think about the language you use
Accessibility isn’t just about wheelchair ramps and Auslan interpreters. Although they are important - it’s also about attitude and language.
Read Arts Access Victoria’s Art for Everyone: an inclusive practice guide - a workbook for people and organisations who wish to develop inclusive art programs in a meaningful and respectful way.
Tip 3. Is your event wheelchair accessible?
Did you tick “yes” to "is your event wheelchair accessible?" while registering? Answer the following questions to find out if your event is truly wheelchair accessible:
- Can a wheelchair user get into your venue? Entry should be 1.2m wide or more, and there shouldn’t be steps.
- Is there an accessible bathroom? Make sure it isn't being used as a storage cupboard and doesn't require a key from venue staff.
- Is there accessible parking or a wheelchair friendly drop-off point?
- Does the venue have internal circulation? Could someone in a wheelchair 1.2m wide easily manoeuvre inside? Are there steps inside the venue that would prevent a wheelchair user from fully participating in your event?
- If your accessible entrance is not the main entrance, consider how you will direct and welcome patrons to your accessible entrance (you may even consider using the accessible entrance as your main entrance for your event). In any case, good signage and wayfinding is a must!
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, make sure you place the “Wheelchair accessible” icon onto your promotional material.
Unsure? Contact us.
Tip 4. Auslan Interpretation
Auslan interpretation is for members of the deaf community who use Australian Sign Language as their primary or preferred language of communication.
Interested in knowing more about Auslan? Head to Auslan Signbank, there's an online dictionary, video demonstrations, information on classes and more.
Auslan Stage Left usually offer a reduced price on Midsumma Festival events (prices vary depending on the nature of your event). They provide qualified interpreters for events and will often promote events on their website. Contact Auslan Stage Left to discuss your event.
Tip 5. Captioning
Your event may lend itself better to captioning (particularly if it is a scripted performance or film) for audiences who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Learn more about captioning from Arts Access Victoria's Get the Facts: captioning.
Tip 6. Audio Description and Tactile Tours
Tip 7. Relaxed Performance
Relaxed Performances are a great way for audiences to experience the wonder of live performance in an environment that has been carefully adapted to be friendly, informal and open to all audience reactions. They are for anyone but are particularly suitable for audiences with disability including autism spectrum conditions as well as sensory, communication or learning disabilities. If you are interested in producing a Relaxed Performance session of your event, you might like to contact Tom at A_tistic Theatre, who can provide consultations on producing a relaxed performance. The service details are:
Email: [email protected]
INFO SESSION - Access and Inclusion
COVID Safe Plan
It is extremely important to work with your venue to ensure you are following all the necessary COVID safety requirements. You will be required to create a COVID Safe Plan for your event in collaboration with your venue. Have a look at The Victorian Governments COVID Safe Plan resources and start preparing now.
Download our Risk Assessment Template, we highly recommend that you complete this in the lead up to your event.
Live Performance Australia: Guidelines for COVID Safe Auditions, Rehearsals and Performances (PDF)
It's important that you are across your legal obligations as a producer. Here are a few things that you might want to think about.
- Arts Law Centre of Australia: COVID-19 FAQs for artists
- Do you need a participant/artist agreement? Download an example participant/artist agreement.
- Do you need a venue agreement? Download an example venue agreement.
- Are your team over 18 years old and are you paying them more than $450 (before tax) in a calendar month? Then you might be legally required to pay them superannuation. See the Arts Law Centre's Information Sheet for more information.
- Are you likely to pay more than $7,500 per financial year in rateable remuneration (fees for your team)? Or do you have apprentices or trainees? Then you might be legally obliged to take out a WorkCover policy. For more information see Worksafe's Insurance obligations for employers.
- Have you got public liability insurance? This is insurance that protects you should a general public sue you for injury. Midsumma requires you to have public liability insurance. Some providers of public liability insurance include Duck for Cover, Allianz, and GIO.
- Would you like someone else to handle all the finances, payroll, superannuation, WorkCover and other administration of your event? Contact Auspicious Arts.
- Are you playing music which is under copyright during your event or in the area in which your event takes place? Then you will need an APRA AMCOS license AND a PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia) license. If you want to make the most of live streaming, see the Live Streaming Best Practice Guide from Music Victoria.
- Are you looking to screen, perform, replicate, copy or modify an existing song, play, film or something else that is copyrighted? Make sure you have obtained the rights through the appropriate artist or agent and familiarise yourself with the Art Law Copyright Overview.
- Do you need advice from a union? Check out Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).
- Do you need to know the award rates for touring, guidelines around child employment, codes for Outdoor Events, etc.? Check out Live Performance Australia or National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).
- Do you need to know about unfair dismissal, fairness in the workplace and more? Visit the Fair Work Commission website.
- Have you got questions that are specifically about the arts and the law? Arts Law is an excellent starting point.
This information is not intended to be a replacement for seeking legal advice. The information is only a starting place for your research into your rights and obligations under the law.
When producing an event, it's important that you consider your future as a practitioner and whether you would like to present this event again.
It can be challenging to think about the future while you are focused on producing your current event but it's essential in order to sustain your practice.
Read Touring and Future Presentations to think about how to tour your work and how to make long-lasting connections for your practice.
Read the Live Performance Australia: COVID Safe Touring Guidelines (PDF) if planning to tour your event during the pandemic.
Next Step - Marketing and Publicity
To assist your event with cutting through the media and gaining the maximum amount of exposure possible, Midsumma Festival has put together this resource for you.
Midsumma Year Round
Want to know what else we do (apart from run a fantastic arts festival each year, of course)! Check out our mentorship programs and year-round activities.