I’ve been working on live events for 20 years, and just when I thought nothing could surprise me, Eurovision high-kicked into town.
The work started long before the day we heard we were successful in our bid. Months of work went into understanding the requirements, mapping them against our facilities and working with existing bookings to explore the art of the possible.
When the BBC were asked ‘why Liverpool’? they said we were successful in part because of the city’s willingness to work with them. Other factors played a part – our location, our experience, Liverpool’s music history – but our total buy-in to the vision of the BBC and the EBU clinched it.
So what did I learn...?
Preparation is everything. Anything can happen, so it’s our job to think through every scenario and plan for it happening. This requires a multi-agency approach – for Eurovision we worked with Liverpool City Council, the blue light agencies, DCMS, residents, neighbouring businesses, NHS, and Public Health England, among many others, to run through every eventuality no matter how unlikely it seemed.
Collaboation is key. We simply couldn’t have done this as a stand-alone venue and we wouldn’t want to - the city’s enthusiasm, experience and commitment was crucial to the successful bid as well as the smooth running of the event itself. The whole city was galvanized by the concept of Eurovision and while we were working on the TV shows, everyone else was busy creating an incredible environment for people to enjoy, locals and visitors alike.
The client’s vision is central. From the off we understood that the client needed an amazing TV show, which would ultimately be seen by 160 million people, and we used this as a north star throughout. It’s so important to understand specific roles and responsibilities when working on an event of this scale, and it was up to us to facilitate the production team’s creativity. Sixty miles of power cabling, 1,000 litres of hairspray and over 600 rigging points later, we pulled it off.
It’s testament to Liverpool’s time as host city that our strapline United by Music has now been taken on as permanent concept for future competitions, which for us is a lasting legacy and nearly as good as receiving douze points!