Expanding production requirements and an order for an impressive fireworks display put Staging Connections’ event planners to the test
Amway Taiwan awarded 1,150 of its top achievers a five-day incentive programme to Sydney, culminating in an elaborate gala dinner at one of the city’s newest venues, the Cutaway at Barangaroo.
According to Chris Lewis, event director at Staging Connections, the event brief was fairly standard as far as gala dinners go – entertainment, processions, a toast and reveal of the following year’s destination, all within the allocated budget.
Staging Connections was awarded the contract based on two key factors – providing one point of contact from development though to event execution and its “warts and all” approach.
Lewis explained: “We look into all avenues of the concept and include things that won’t work and advise the client.”
Staging Connections faced a number of challenges in executing the gala dinner. Being a brand new venue, the event was the first of its kind and size to be hosted at the Cutaway.
“It was a steep learning curve for all involved,” said Lewis. “There were power restrictions, limited weight loading on the floor, ceiling and rigging points, and engineering that had not been signed off. There were also massive audio delays being such a large venue.”
In addition, while guest numbers remained the same, the size of the event doubled in terms of production, projection, stage set, table styling and entertainment. While the original proposal estimated 70 performers, the final number grew to 130.
“Finding a solution for green rooms and travel distances from green rooms to back stage areas without being seen was a huge challenge. We could not fit another thing in the room,” he recalled.
“Plus we had to drive seven Classic Mustangs on and off the stage, do a loop of the room and pick up the next lot of winners for the procession. It was extremely tight.”
The final challenge was Amway Taiwan’s request for fireworks that were “bigger and better than New Year’s Eve”. Lewis said gaining approval for a pyrotechnics display is difficult at the best of times and having that in a new location made for a whole new level of complexity.
Lewis said working closely with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) was key to the success of the event.
“For a new, untested venue there lots of teething problems,” said Lewis. “But when they (BDA) raised concerns, they provided solutions for a work around.”
Good pre-production, detailed meetings, and allowing his team to take ownership of their roles were also essential according to Lewis.
He said the audio solution was the hardest to get around, but they were able to create walls and draping to absorb some of the sound and minimise delay.
“The set up through to the final fireworks was delivered flawlessly.”
Lewis said allowing the client to get to know his team grew their trust in Staging Connections’ ability to deliver the event.
He concluded: “Trust in yourself and the team you surround yourself with and great things happen. The client sees it as well, which leads to a more than successful event.”