Today, events of varied sizes, forms and themes are proliferating, as human beings believe that it is necessary to mark all the significant occasions in their lives (Allen et al, 2005: 5). In the creation of an event, one of the most important processes is the conceptualisation for the event. The “five Ws” – what, when, where, why and who – are the principal questions that will be asked in conceptualising an event (Goldblatt, 1997 cited in Allen, 2005: 96). It is also of paramount importance to understand what the main stakeholders are seeking because:
Events are now required to serve a multitude of agenda. It is no longer sufficient for an event to meet just the needs of its audience. It must also embrace a plethora of other requirements, including government objectives and regulations, media requirements, sponsors’ needs and community expectations…the event will be judged by its success in balancing the competing needs, expectations and interests of a diverse range of stakeholders (Allen et al, 2005: 86).
In order to illustrate the process of conceptualisation for an event clearly, it is better to use real life examples. The New Year’s Eve event “Bergsilvester” in the Alpine city of Innsbruck (Austria) and The Gold Coast’s Wintersun Festival will be used to examine how the concept of the events was developed.
First and foremost, the event content, that is “what”, will be discussed. In both cases, the event content has changed tremendously since the initial operation of the events. The “Bergsilvester” event was first organized in 1994 and the core element was the mountain fireworks. “More than 5000 rockets are lit in a fireworks display on the mountain surrounding the city”. The host organization then decided to add two New Year’s Eve events – the “Mini New Year’s Eve” for kids and their parents and the “ New Year’s Eve Run” for professional athletes and hobby runners (Peters et al, 2005: 150). Similarly, changes have been made in the Gold Coast’s Wintersun Festival but to a greater extent. The event was first started in 1973 as a community festival. The event was later transformed from a rock and roll festival to a nostalgia festival “that celebrates the music, cars, clothes and dances of the period from 1955 to 1970” (Mules, 2004: 95). In addition, more and more new features such as a street parade, carnival rides and rock and roll dance competition have been added to the event throughout the years (Mules, 2004: 96). The latest activity in the event was to “bring an international rock and roll act to Australia once every 5 years” (Mules, 2004: 98). All these changes occurred because “the event content must match the needs, wants, desires and expectations of the audience” (Goldblatt, 1997 cited in Allen, 2005: 96). It is necessary to “keep adding elements to surprise past patrons and delight new ones” and at the same time, it is important to keep the original activities while reviving any features in which the visitors start to lose interest (interview with Festival Director, 2003 cited in Mules, 2004: 98). Evidence showed that these additional events did attract more patrons. For “Bergsilvester”, “ more recent statistics confirm the success of these additional events with 7000 visitors enjoying the ‘Mini New Year’s Eve’ 2003 and twice as many people as in 2001 participating in the ‘New Year’s Eve Run’ 2003(620 participants)” (Peters et al, 2005: 150). For the Wintersun Festival, it was estimate that the crowd had grown from 500-600 in 1988 to 30000 in 2003(Mules, 2004: 96-97).
Then, the decision of where the event is going to be held is influential, as it will have a momentous influence on the success of the event. According to Goldblatt (1997 cited in Allen, 2005: 96), the choice of venue must represent the best compromise between the organizational needs of the event, audience comfort, accessibility and cost. Thus, the sites for both events must be chosen after careful consideration. The locations for “...
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