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11th Hour – Helping to Make Hay
UK – The Hay Festival is an annual festival of literature and the arts, held in Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales. Beginning life in 1988, the festival has expanded to encompass a broad spectrum of cultural activities and this year’s renewal, a ten day event, welcomed more than a quarter of a million vistors. The festival site, roughly rectangular in shape, comprises temporary marquee structures of varying size (capacities vary from a few thousand to less than a hundred) connected by covered walkways and is located in a field on the edge of the town. The infrastructure required to meet the needs of the festival audience and the 800 or so events that take place is significant. From lectures, readings, concerts and screenings, to discussions, sales, children’s activities, catering, media centre and more besides, Hay Festival presents logistical challenges that might bring a frown to even the most seasoned events professional. This year Cardiff-based events services supplier 11th Hour was in the thick of the action having been appointed as the event’s lead production company.
To meet the needs of the site’s eight principal venues, as well as peripheral areas on what is a very compact site, 11th Hour supplied full production, including stage and site lighting, staging, audio and AV (in partnership with Stage Sound Services) as well as generators and mains distribution. The provision covered a varied range of requirements, from large concerts to intimate talks.
11th Hour’s project manager, Pete Morgan: “The site is quite tight in terms of moving equipment around and keeping it discreet and safe. Whilst very detailed advance planning and calculation was essential, the fact remains that there is inevitably a degree of fluidity within the brief, you can plan for and anticipate most eventualities but you also have to be nimble enough to adapt to whatever comes your way.
Hay was challenging but we succeeded in getting everything into position with the minimum of stress. On top of more than twelve tons of site electrics equipment, including mains cabling and distribution, we put in over a hundred pieces of staging, three hundred metres of truss and more than a hundred metres of pipe and drape, not to mention almost three hundred and fifty lighting fixtures. On a big open site this would be a breeze but the confines of the Hay site certainly made it interesting!”
In recent times, 11th Hour has expanded its fleet of generators to meet a growing demand for its power and distribution services and uses the very latest in efficient, environmentally friendly technology. At Hay, the company supplied 1350kVA of generated power to support the existing land mains power supply. For key areas of the site, the power was split between generated and land mains, to make certain that show-critical elements remain online throughout the proceedings without fail.
Pete Morgan continues: “There is no margin for error at an event such has Hay, where there are so many diverse elements to the programme and so many things going on simultaneously. Even a relatively small disruption to the schedule can throw things way off beam, so the fail-safe of complementing the land mains with generators was a must.”
For 11th Hour, the delivery of a successful installation at Hay was very much a case of meeting the requirements of each individual ‘site within a site’ whilst still taking account of how this approach would fit into the overall picture. This demanded a systematic, yet flexible approach. Each separate area had its own specific needs, whether that was to provide power to stage, light and film a Jake Bugg or Imelda May concert, meet the demands of countless laptops in the busy media zone or supply the smallest quirky art installation. Great emphasis also had to placed on presentational aesthetics, so in each area, an assessment had to be made of the visual impact of any hardware, adding another layer of consideration to the planning.
Pete Morgan again: “An event like this is pretty unique. The sheer variety of what’s on offer to those who attend is a real eye-opener and each different area has to have its own bespoke set-up and be taken of account of in terms of the site as a whole. Taken individually, there’s nothing that’s going to present many problems but once you start adding up the details of each area, you realise what a mammoth task it becomes. The impact of any additions or changes to the plan have to be calculated to make sure everything’s safe and will function properly, and I can’t ever recall using so much drape anywhere!”
Joe Fletcher, technical director for the Hay Festival sums up: “This year it was decided to give the contract for the full technical install to a Welsh-based company. Having efficiently provided a variety of services over the years, 11th Hour was the obvious choice. From very early on in the process, Andy Hopkins and Pete Morgan struck up an open and supportive relationship with myself and the team. Pete worked tirelessly during prep and particularly during the build on site, to make sure that all demands were met smoothly. All technical elements were completed on time and to a high standard and the sub-contractors 11th Hour engaged, namely Stage Sound Services and Stage Lighting Services – both of Cardiff – were excellent to work with.”
As 11th Hour continues to grow, projects like the Hay Festival amply demonstrate its capacity to deliver turnkey solutions with total confidence. By placing complete trust in the expertise and experience of its carefully recruited team, the company goes from strength to strength. Close relationships developed over many years with industry partners add significant value, further deepening the pool of 11th Hour’s already impressive resources. Following the highlight of last year’s Champions League Final visit to Cardiff, where 11th Hour delivered services across the Welsh capital, this summer the company has already met the needs of a wide range of contrasting events. The significant challenges presented by the Hay Festival were overcome by planning, dynamism and flexibility, the trademarks of 11th Hour’s success.
9th August 2018
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