Municipality and event: Do these two match? How are commercial enterprises and towns different as hosts? Where are possible parallels? A professional agency with an excellent regional network addresses the corresponding requirements in detail … And keeps a keen eye on financial aspects.
- Leverkusen in transition: one town, many possibilities.
- It’s professional standards that make individual events possible in the first place.
- Everyone is a specialist in his field: An interview shows how a town administration can benefit from the know-how of an event agency.
Leverkusen is a young town. It was only in 1930 that the city formed due to the merger of the town of Wiesdorf and the municipalities of Schlebusch, Steinbüchel and Rheindorf. The key impulse came from the economy: IG Farben, later Bayer AG, had settled down here.
The global player has been transforming for many years, and this ongoing restructuring has influenced the town. Leverkusen is transforming, too. A dynamic environment like this is ideal for an event agency like artimage. “As event agency in Leverkusen we have accompanied this transformation process for a long time”, says Ulrich Kämmerling.
The conception of the “Brückenfest” festival is one example. For non-residents: In the north of Leverkusen there was one of the largest federal repair centres of the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway Company). Since 2008, this terrain has been transformed into a new district for living, knowledge and well-being. Several bridges were erected to ensure connections to the rest of the town’s infrastructure. They are also the symbol of a citizen’s festival that highlights the project progress every two years.
EVENTAGENTUR artimage realised the “Brückenfest” festival for the town of Leverkusen with the following services:
In the first place with perfect communication. As with all kinds of events, it is the key to success. Aside from personal interaction, digitalisation is an important element.
EVENTAGENTUR artimage uses i.a. these collaboration tools:
Professional event agencies with a demand for high quality always create and plan events individually. The customer – be it a company or a town – gets a target-group-specific marketing tool. That requires standardised processes that eliminate sources of error and can be arranged flexibly for individual events. If an agency would sell the same summer party over and over, errors in communication and coordination would be inevitable.
Conclusion: Individually planned events for municipalities are a little more expensive than off-the-shelf products, but they pay off due to:
- flexible project management that can react on short notice to current changes
- well-connected protagonists that communicate directly
- solutions that have been tailored to the given surrounding conditions
Finally, one thing is certain: Creativity isn’t everything. The key task is to realise an idea viably and within the given budget. That is why the planning is discussed and realised in detail with technicians and security forces on-site.
Best practice: German-Finnish night – Leverkusen celebrates 50 years of twinning with the Finnish town of Oulu
1968 was a turbulent year: While youths all over the world were enjoying their freedom, the towns of Leverkusen and Oulu tied the knot – as per intercession of the “Deutscher Städtetag” (Association of German Cities). It was a marriage of convenience between two locations of chemical industry. Very “Finnish-diplomatic”, the former GDR town Halle/Saale was to be the second German twin town.
The following dialogue reveals background information and trivia on the German-Finnish festive evening on 06 December 2018.
Ulrich Kämmerling, proprietor of EVENTAGENTUR artimage, and Bernhard Marewskimet at the venue, the Forum Leverkusen, for a little retrospection. The deputy mayor and councilman is also chairman of the local branch of the German-Finnish Association. For more than 40 years, he has committed himself to the town twinning. The success of the event in the anniversary year was very important to him.
Bernhard Marewski: As committed citizen and active local politician I have been and still am active in several committees. In the process, I have also gained experience in respect to organisation. In relation to the anniversary I was sure of two things: First, that we had to start with the planning at least one year in advance, if Leverkusen wanted to celebrate the twinning anniversary in 2018, and second, that we needed someone that knows his craft in matters of events. You need a pro to realise such an event.
Ulrich Kämmerling: With that attitude you could very well work for us … But seriously: What Bernhard is saying is elementary for the success of an event – whether it is realised for a town or a company. The planning starts with the day of the event and continues in reverse. What I need, I will organise into the here and now.
And as it was a town anniversary, the immediate and complete coordination of all plans with the town administration was implicit. With Uwe Bräutigam, advisor to the mayor in matters of twin towns, I had a direct and excellent partner. That was real team work. And it allowed for approximately 30 different themed events to be realised in the course of the year 2018. A German-Finnish festive evening was to be the finale on 06 December 2018. As special undertaking on the occasion of the anniversary year, the first edition of a joint scientific conference of the technical university in Cologne with the Campus Leverkusen and the Oulu University was to take place. The preparations for the “STEPsCON 2018”, a conference on sustainability and innovation in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, biotechnology and resources started as soon as 2017. The plan was to place this international conference near the time frame of the festive evening.
And here we come to an issue that is typical for municipalities: We were included very late in the process. That wasn’t because of you, dear Bernhard. It was due to the structure of an administration. The formerly described prospective procedure simply doesn’t apply there. It’s all about execution. In general, we as an agency do not care at which stage we are included in a project. We can start at the very beginning with a blank piece of paper. In this case, much had already been decided. Bernhard had already developed the programme and contacted the protagonists.
The venue for the conference and the festive evening had been set early on: the Forum Leverkusen. It is generally suitable for theatre performances, festivals and congresses. The question was however, whether the equipment would be sufficient for the intended demanding programme. We planned addresses, music and dance performances, the award of an honorary prize and an entry in the Golden Book of Leverkusen. Some artists were scheduled, as well as a choir and a symphonic wind orchestra with more than 60 musicians. And then there also was the 1st “Polar Bear Pitching” in Germany, an “import” from Oulu, if you will. That requires technical equipment …
And it requires programme direction as well as stage management, to name just two items. The Forum is a multi-functional location here in the centre of Leverkusen. There is a large concert hall, small lecture rooms, the vast terrace hall, and the foyer. Basically, a location with many possibilities. But you have to identify them in order to be able to make use of them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Forum is our second home. But since the foundation of artimage in 1990, we have worked there regularly.
(In that moment, a technical employee walks by and greets Ulrich Kämmerling with a cordial handshake.)
The landlord is not the friendly colleague we just saw, but the “KulturStadtLev”. This branch of the town always presents itself in a flexible and cooperative manner. We can apply the complete bandwidth of our services here at the Forum … If we are included at an early stage. For the gala it was still early enough. The task: What takes place and what is the order of events? Central topics were the direction of the evening and prior to that the coordination with the artists. What about dressing rooms and catering? And on the day of the event everything had to run like clockwork.
Well, you offered that separately. And that was a good thing, too. And our decision to accept your offer was absolutely correct. With all respect for good resolutions: But when it comes to such an event that is supposed to become a lasting positive memory, experiments are not an option. Everything must be coordinated perfectly.
Definitely, that creates transparency and conveys to the customer where the responsibilities lie. If we get the job, the customer can simply enjoy his event.
There is a discussion in Leverkusen, whether the “KulturStadtLev” branch should hire its own event manager. But aside from the personnel costs: How diversely specialised should this person be? I consider it a better solution to hire external professionals in accordance with the corresponding event.
That is a very important subject. We are not part of the municipal “administration” system. Our outside view allows us to develop other possibilities. We recognise potentials. We can even make small budgets work. We know where a certain budget really makes sense and can develop its full impact.
A municipal event department might be able to do that, too. But why should we establish an administrative competition to private companies that really know their job? Quite on the contrary: We should make use of local offers and by doing so support local companies. After all, they offer places of employment in our town and pay their taxes here. In this case I have experienced an overall good cooperation between artimage and the Forum administration. It worked perfectly. Nothing happens against each other, but rather hand in hand.
I would like to circle back to the topic of budget. The programme for the evening had already been well-planned. And it was obvious: The town only had a very limited budget for this celebration. You asked me: What can I get for that amount? And I asked in return: What do you want? We approached the topic from another side. Because we were able to give Bernhard a realistic sum due to our experience, he in return was able to address donors with a clear plan. Because of our estimates, the content got an authoritative structure.
Right. The cost estimates by artimage were realistic. It included a lot of good will from the protagonists, volunteers and finally the agency – but costs simply accrue in such an endeavour. And here, the people in charge require planning dependability. They owe that to all partners and contributors.
Of course, it was also an investment from our side. But an event like this was close to our heart. So, we committed to it.
What did surprise me a little was the fact that the plans for the programme sequence and the technology to be used all took my ideas for the festive evening into account. After all, such a German-Finnish evening initially is nothing more than an idea, which you then have to convey to the agency. artimage and ALP Media as partner for technical solutions completely understood the intention and realised the ideas perfectly. And the artists hired for that evening, some of them with international experience, were just as satisfied. Their feedback: Everything had been prepared perfectly. To sum it all up: It was the best decision to hire professionals.
You can always assume that we take all ideas into account and check them in respect to feasibility. Then we review the results and, thanks to excellent communication skills, find alternatives, if need be. Or we can constitute why a certain item is not included in the programme. At the end of the day, or rather the evening, it will become evident why we decided not to include it.
Back to our example. The contents were clear. Naturally, I coordinated the details with EVENTAGENTUR artimage in respect to feasibility. What impressed me was that they didn’t tamper with the ideas but instead focused on the realisation. In the end, everything was in perfect sync. The guests observed that positively as well.
Exactly. Our job began with the organisation – especially the direction of the evening and coordination with the artists. How do they want to prepare for their performance? What kind of dressing rooms are required? Maybe the artists have been on the road for quite some time. What about catering? These are questions that we ask to make sure that the protagonists start into their performance refreshed and with energy. We don’t question the content but rather focus on the perfect realisation. What does the customer want to convey with his event? We make sure that he succeeds. Therefore, my appeal to the administration: Just relinquish the responsibility to us pros. For instance, let’s look at the entry in the Golden Book. At first, that seems quite trivial. But in the context of the evening programme everything must work out: There must be a table, chairs, the book, and of course the people involved. And everything has to be arranged in a manner that it provides the press with perfect shots. As I said: It seems trivial. But everything must run like clockwork. And it is these little details that add glamour to a good idea.
It was actually a premier in this form – such a close cooperation between the town of Leverkusen and EVENTAGENTUR artimage. We, at the Leverkusen branch of the German-Finnish Association, as partner association were the idea provider and have invested a lot of volunteer work. But the success requires professional support when it comes to event management. The result confirms that without a doubt.
This anniversary celebration of 50 years of twinning between Leverkusen and the northern Finnish Oulu has earned much acknowledgement, here in Leverkusen, but also in the Finnish town of Oulu. People will remember that very fondly.
3 Fragen zum kommunalen Event
When should EVENTAGENTUR artimage be included in such a municipal event?
Ideally already during the planning phase. Usually, there are more ideas than money. With their experience, the pros can help create a good balance.
Can artists like conservatoires that are closely connected to the city perform spontaneously and without rehearsal?
No, usually not. Citizens and deciders of the administration always experience this art form in an organised setting. That doesn’t happen by itself. Coordination and rehearsals are essential. The timing has to take that into account.
How does the town benefit from a professional event?
There is no simple answer to that question. Let’s have a look at a topic that doesn’t seem to have any connection with events: skilled labour shortage. Such sought-after and courted people want to work in a city that transports its attitude towards life authentically. Professional events are a part of that.
Ulrich Kämmerling, proprietor of the Leverkusen event agency EVENTAGENTUR artimage e.K., is excited: “In 2019, the Forum in Leverkusen celebrates its 50th anniversary. A special location in a special town … And we are designing a very special celebration. We are very proud to be involved!”