T H E  I N T E R N  E X P E R I E N C E:  

F E S T I V A L S  &  T H E  T E A M 


Date Posted —
10.10.17

Posted by —
Emily Birkett

Welcome back to the journal. Firstly to introduce myself, I’m Emily – the current intern with Team Deco and after a summer of working with them, I thought it was about time that I (finally) write a journal post! I first heard about Deco Publique when Lauren and Elena came to Lancaster University to do a talk for one of my LICA modules called Creative Enterprise, the purpose of which was to create a culturally valued project. As soon as they began talking, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I was a fine art student, thoroughly enjoying the making aspect to my practice but also greatly interested in the management/organisation side of hosting events. At university I was a part of Up North Arts, a society which aimed to create opportunities for artists curating exhibitions around Lancashire and was the treasurer of the 53 More Things to Do in Zero Gravity degree show. So I’d had some experience, just not on the same scale as anything that Deco Publique produces. After mentioning the appointment of interns at the end of the year and organically incorporating a community aspect to my practice, I applied and I’m not quite sure how but I got it!

So what have I been doing as an intern? Well a bit of everything really! For now, I thought I'd focus on festival weekends and of course, alongside that comes working with the extended Deco family who help carry out the manual labour of setting up gazebos, carrying tables, chairs and assembling flags / hanging bunting for decoration. The first of the 3 festivals I worked this summer was Fine Tuned at the Albert Dock in Liverpool & in partnership with the British Style Collective and Hemingway Design, the second at Burnley Canal Festival with Mid Pennine Arts and Super Slow Way and the final one at Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe, all offering something completely different. FT was daunting at first with it being my first week but I shadowed the crew and learnt basic things like how to properly use a drill, to the more technical, like site dressing and artist liaisons - visiting the Albert Docks ahead of time with Alex to distribute banners and assisting the performers to the green room to get ready for their performances.

BCF focused more on folk and community in three locations along the Leeds Liverpool Canal. Here I felt more knowledgeable due to working in the office and seeing the operation first hand – I knew of the performers, street food vendors and makers and I’d gotten to know the team over the last few months so I felt slightly more at ease walking around the sites. By this point, I had been introduced to the Deco social media platforms and had set up a HootSuite to have a constant flow of content but I also was the resident photographer/videographer for Instagram Stories, so if you caught any of that footage down the towpath, then you know who was the person behind the magic! Being an artist myself, I also stayed around the workshop tents to help the artists manage the high public demand.

Festival weekends are hard! Early starts and late evenings, the producers are the first ones up and the last ones to leave. Setting up, keeping on top of the site and uninstalling is what the majority of the weekend consists of, not to mention lots of brew runs to keep us going. Despite this, they are very enjoyable, varied and come with many highlights. At FT, I loved the classic cars, the Best in Show element presented by Caryn Franklin, the fabulous vintage outfits/stalls and the crossover between all the stations, performers and the shows throughout the day. Boom Bike Bouree blasted their music for the catwalk providing an interactive element and the routemaster red bus with The Reboot DJ's on the top deck provided a hub-like atmosphere amongst the street food. At BCF, I visited the NSPCC stall where I made a lovely second hand purchase, engaged in delightful conversations with the stallholders and watched the incredible Rajasthan Heritage Band perform. Equally, Sol Cinema (one of our regular performers) offered to cook for the team one evening, making a feast of delicious food – even making vegan variations of everything for myself which was such a kind gesture!

I’m only halfway through my internship but I’m excited for what's to come in the second half and to share one of my favourite weekends with the team so far – Vintage by the Sea. But for now, I will leave you with some photographs from my experience so far.

Emily.