This guide offers practical advice and tips to help you deliver a successful, well organised and safe event.

It covers a large range of event types, from live music concerts to exhibitions to parties and celebrations. Not all sections are relevant to all types of event.

Things you must do

As an event organiser, it is your responsibility to consider the main risks that could affect your event and the people attending it.

No matter how small your event may be, you must have these things:

  • A risk assessment - This should include getting risk assessments from external suppliers and performers working on the event.
  • Public Liability Insurance - This covers you if a claim is made for injury or loss.

If your event is in a council venue

The council already has risk assessments and insurance to cover the building and any services and staffing it may provide.

As the event organiser and hirer of the venue you must have appropriate insurance in place to cover your own activities and actions. This is a condition of hire in most cases.

Planning and logistics

Your reason for organising the event

Be clear about why you are organizing your event. It might be something as simple as "we want to celebrate the achievements of the group" or "we want to entertain the community for an evening". Whatever it is, keep your objective in mind as you plan and work on your event. Your initial reason for starting on this adventure will be the fuel that helps you stay motivated and on task when things get difficult or tiring.

Who the event is aimed at

Knowing who your event is aimed at will help you make sure everything you are putting into the event will appeal to them. It will also help you focus your marketing effectively. Important things to think about include:

  • What is the expected age range of your audience? Young people, families, older people or a mix?
  • Where do they live? Is the event primarily for local residents or do you want to attract audiences from further afield?
  • How big an audience do you want to attract?
  • Do you intend to sell tickets or charge an entry fee? If so, how will you do so and if not, how will you control numbers attending?
  • How do you know there is a 'need or call' for the event?
  • Are you targeting a particular interest group or a particular cultural group?
  • Will you be consulting with local residents about the event?
  • Do you want to engage local residents in some aspects of the event to give a sense of ownership? If so, how will you do this?
  • Does the target audience have any special requirements such as disabled access, baby changing facilities or dietary requirements.
The people running the event

Do not attempt to plan and organise your event on your own, you need a committed team that you can delegate jobs to. Make a list of the key areas of responsibility and find people that have those skills.

Hold regular project meetings and keep them focused. Make sure everyone is clear as to what their responsibilities are and the time commitments expected. Give clear deadlines for work to be completed and make sure you check that people are on-task.

Depending on the size, nature and complexity of your event make sure you allow plenty of time to plan it. This could be as much as a year for some large scale events.

Budgeting

Expenditure

Write a list of everything that will have a cost attached to it. If you know the exact cost then put that in, if you don't, get an estimate instead. For expenditure it is always better to overestimate than underestimate the cost.

Remember to check whether any quotes you receive include VAT or not. If you are not VAT registered you will need to take VAT into account.

Always include a contingency of at least 10% of the overall budget to cover any unexpected costs which will inevitability occur.

Earned income

Calculate how much income you expect to make from the event through things like ticket sales, merchandise, stall holders 'pitch fees', bucket donations, income received from advertisements in your programme or brochure. Try to be realistic, it is better to under estimate than overestimate and have a shortfall. All these are your 'earned income'.

Other income

Include any other income such as grant income from charities and trusts and private donations or sponsorship that you know is confirmed.

Balance the estimated expenditure against the projected income and make sure your event is going to at least break even. If it looks like you are going to make a loss, find ways to reduce the expenditure, perhaps by borrowing equipment or downscaling the event. Alternatively, review your plan to identify more ways to generate income, fundraising is always an option but this takes time and planning.

You can find further information about funding on

Creative Kirklees - Opportunities and funding .
Venues

When researching potential venues, keep these questions in mind:

  • Will it attract your target audience?
  • Is it the right size for the number of people you are hoping to attract? A large venue may be more expensive to hire and will require a larger audience to both cover the costs and also give the event sufficient 'atmosphere'. A small venue will be cheaper to hire but could limit the number of people who can attend.
  • Can the public find it easily?
  • Is it easy to get to on public transport? Are there any parking facilities? Do you need to consider 'how to get there?' in your marketing and promotion?
Venue search

To see information about our council venues, please check our Town halls - our halls page.

For other possible venues in Kirklees please check Spaces and Venues in Kirklees .

Programming

Take the time to think through the programme thoroughly, considering:

  • The date of your event. Will the event clash with other (perhaps similar) events going on locally, or with any significant national events?
  • Time and duration of activity or performance
  • Number of audience and participants likely to attend
  • Attention span of audience and participants.

It is important to ensure you have the content of any 'performance' elements clearly in mind from the outset. This is especially important where performance is the main part of the event. Any artistic content needs to be programmed so that performers can be booked, acts rehearsed and all associated arrangements made. This usually cannot be done at short notice and you will need some certainty of the content at an early stage too allow you to promote your event.

Think about the purpose of your event:

  • Relevance of the content
  • Does the activity send the right message?
  • Does the programming tie in with your agenda or event theme?
  • Is the programming appropriate for the audience you want to attract?

Finding and booking performers and activities

Consider the costs of any performances and make sure you are realistic. Using amateur performers may appear to present a low-cost option but you must bear in mind that even if the performers are unpaid, there are likely to be expenses to cover such as rehearsal space and time, travel, accommodation, technical and other costs associated with their act. You should also consider the quality of the product. It needs to be consistent with the expectations you have set as well as the prices you intend to charge.

You could find the performers and activities you need for your event by:

  • Speaking to organisers of similar events and getting referrals
  • Attending similar events and seeing the performances and activities for yourself and how the audience interacts
  • For local performers check out Arts and Creative Events in Kirklees, West Yorkshire or search on the internet for festivals, events and videos
  • Contacting local venues and theatres
  • Contacting local Universities, Colleges and Schools
  • Contacting artist agencies.

Remember to keep your budget in mind when you research performers and activities. Do your research to get the best and most effective offer. Always get quotes and make you know whether VAT is included or not.

Make sure you explore any additional unforeseen costs. Examples could be:

  • Do the artists need to travel to your event and do they expect you to pay for travel expenses?
  • Will you need to find or pay for accommodation for overnight stays?
  • Do you need to provide catering or a rider?

You can usually make a provisional booking for performers and artists to secure them for your event but only confirm when you are sure there is enough money in your budget to cover all costs.

Contracts and written agreements

Ensure that you get everything in writing, preferably in the form of a simple contract which will need to include the following information:

  • The artist or performer name and address
  • The agreed fee along with any other agreed details. Does the fee include travel or accommodation costs? Does it include VAT?
  • The venue including postal address
  • Performance date and time
  • Length and number of performances, workshops or activities agreed
  • Include a description of what the agreed performance, workshop or activities will be
  • Technical requirements (what are they bringing and what do you need to provide?)
  • Include cancellation clauses both from the organisers point of view and what you expect of the artist if they cancel, for example through illness
  • Include the time you expect performers or artists to arrive at the venue
  • Include details about any vehicle parking restrictions if applicable
  • Include contacts on the day along with a mobile number. For both artists and performers so you can contact them if required and your designated contact person so they can contact you if required

Along with the contract, you may want to provide further information. For example, details of parking facilities and parking permits (if required), hospitality information, directions to the venue and so on.

If no fee is involved, still draw up a letter of agreement which outlines the details of the engagement as suggested above.

Catering

Catering arrangements, both for people involved in the event (staff, volunteers and performers) and also audience (refreshments, food, bars etc) will vary from one venue to another. Some buildings may have kitchen facilities which you can use (though if you do, you will need to demonstrate compliance with all relevant food hygiene standards), some may offer a full catering or bar service for you, and others may have no facilities at all. You must not assume that you will be allowed to do your own food preparation or cooking on-site, this will often not be possible. It is important to check the situation at your venue at the outset, so you can plan accordingly.

Stewarding and Front of House staff

You will need to consider the provision of Front of House staff (sometimes known as stewarding) for your event. Customers will need to be directed to the right place when they arrive, and depending on the nature and size of the event, you may also need staff to help people find their way around or find their seat as appropriate. Some venues provide this as part of the hire fee, but for other venues, where such provision is not included, you will need to consider how this will be covered. This may require engaging staff, enlisting volunteers or employing a security provider.

Rehearsal and being on schedule

Whatever venue you choose, remember to consider the time required for setting up prior to the event. This applies to all types of events but is particularly relevant for live performances, where sound and lighting equipment will need to be set up and tested. Performers may also need time to sound-check and rehearse in the venue before the doors are opened for the audience. If your event will require any amount of stage or technical setup, make sure you have a good idea of the time required from the outset. Similarly, if you have multiple acts or performances, bear in mind that each one may require their own rehearsal and setup time. This can easily add up to hours, and needs to be carefully scheduled around other setup which needs doing 'on the day'. Importantly, you will need to ensure you book sufficient time in the venue to allow for all of this (before the show and afterwards – packing equipment down also takes time) and do not assume that you will be able to drop off equipment in advance of your booked day and time, or that it will be okay to leave equipment for collection the following day as this will often not be possible.

Programme of activities or entertainment

Draw up a running order for the entertainment so that artists or performers and activity leaders know when they are expected to perform, and for how long.

  • Do you need a stage manager to keep performers running to time? If you have lots of acts, you will need someone backstage to make sure they are ready to go out on time.
  • All staff should be given a copy of the running order
  • It may be useful to have a large copy of the running order in the dressing rooms and at the side of the stage for quick reference. You can't have it in too many places.
  • Consider how the audience will know what's happening at your event.
  • Do you need a compere to make announcements on stage? This is useful if you want to keep the audience informed about what is happening next.
  • Do you need to produce a programme to hand out or sell? If you are holding an event with multiple activities (perhaps in different rooms) this helps the audience see what's on so they can plan what they want to see and do.

Health and safety

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produce a large range of event safety guidance. This information can be found on their Events health and safety page. In addition, there are two main publications that are relevant to organising an event. These are:

  • The Purple Guide (to Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and Other Events)
  • The Purple Guide Lite

These can be accessed on The Purple Guide website. However, please note that you will be charged a fee to access the Purple Guide or Purple Guide Lite online.

Individual event elements may require specific consideration in terms of safety such as some types of performances and sporting activities. National or local representative bodies may be able to provide specialist guidance for these scenarios.

Event Management Plan

The Event Management Plan (EMP) should include all relevant information about your event and the procedures you have in place to show how you will run a safe event. The Event Management Plan should include the following information (where relevant to your event):

  • General information about the event including a full programme of activities, expected audience size and demographics
  • Licensing information
  • Details about key staff such as the Event Manager, Health and Safety Manager and any other key staff
  • Details of all suppliers and contractors working as part of the event (where relevant)
  • Crowd management and stewarding including any security (where relevant)
  • Accessibility issues. What is in place for those with disabilities wishing to attend the event
  • Fire safety
  • Medical and first aid provision
  • Food, refreshments and drinking water provision for both the public and staff and performers.

Attached to the Event Management Plan should be the overall risk assessment for the event. Examples of Event Management Plans can be found online but you must always bear in mind that all events are unique and whilst you can use other plans for guidance, you must not rely on them being suitable for your event.

Some venues may include some event planning as part of the venue hire, and some of the safety elements may be led by Kirklees staff, such as stewarding and security, fire safety, fist aid provision, and audience refreshments. It is important to establish as soon as possible what level of planning support is included with the venue you are hiring.

Risk assessment

The event organisers main responsibility when running any event is to make sure that everyone is safe.

Make sure you have a competent person in your team who has the relevant knowledge and can take responsibility for health and safety at your event. If no one has the required knowledge, you may need to consider employing someone who is qualified to be on site for the day. Event safety should be on the agenda at every project meeting. You should also produce a risk assessment for the event. This should look at:

  • Potential hazards
  • The chances of the potential hazards taking place and what the potential consequences could be if they did
  • What controls you will put in place to prevent or minimise the risk of accidents and injury.

For further guidance on how to complete a risk assessment and for suggested event health and safety topics please visit Event safety - Getting started .

In addition, risk assessments should be requested from all suppliers of equipment, performers and activity providers booked at your event. The event organiser or safety officer needs to check that each risk assessment is adequate.

In some Kirklees venues, some elements of the risk assessment will be covered by Kirklees staff, in particular provisions for the safety of the audience within the venue, and general safety within the building. Kirklees Officers will discuss with you exactly what elements we cover, and what you need to cover yourself.

Emergency planning and evacuation procedures

While very unlikely, it is possible that an emergency situation may occur during any event. Examples include:

  • Fire
  • Bomb threat
  • Serious crowd related situations such as disorder

It is important to ensure procedures are in place to deal with situations of this nature and that everyone involved knows what their responsibilities are, even if your event is small. This should form part of your Event Management Plan. Some things to consider include:

  • How will the incident be reported and who to?
  • What is the chain of communication and command?
  • Who will alert emergency services?
  • Who will make the decision to evacuate?
  • Depending on the venue, know your exit points and assembly areas
  • All staff, volunteers and stewards working at your event must be aware of the evacuation procedure and their responsibilities
  • Make sure you have a way to check for missing staff and participants.

Where Kirklees are providing Front of House staffing for your event, these staff may be responsible for dealing with an incident. However, where staffing is not included, building-specific procedures will be in place for dealing with fire alarm activations and detailing emergency exit provision and assembly points. These procedures will form the basis of your own emergency plan.

First aid and medical provision

First aid and medical provision should form part of your Event Management Plan. In some cases, first aid provision for the audience may be provided as part of the venue hire. However, depending on the nature of your event or activity, and the profile of participants, you should consider whether it is necessary to supplement this by providing first-aid cover yourself for performers and event staff.

Electrical items

Electricity is one of the most common causes for concern at events. Any appliances which need to be plugged into the mains supply must be electrically safe. This means that all items must have passed a PAT test and have in-date certification to confirm this. Event organisers must ensure that performers and exhibitors and any technical providers are aware of this requirement.

It is also important to carefully plan any electrical elements well in advance. All electrical requirements should be considered. This includes items which staff, performers and participants may need to use backstage, all the way to items such as the sound and lighting systems which may be brought in for some events. In the latter case, it is important to liaise carefully with the providers of sound and lighting systems to ensure that the power supply at the venue is adequate and in the right place. Temporary electrical systems should be designed following the principles of the BS7909 standard.

For exhibition type events, consider that stall-holders may require electrical appliances at their stall. If the venue is a large open room set out with tables, consideration may need to be given to how power can be provided to those near the centre of the room, in a way that avoids trailing cables and any trip hazards. Options such as having all exhibitors requiring power located around the edges, in close proximity to the main outlets would be ideal.

If there will be catering included in your event then the kitchen appliances must be used in the correct manner, having familiarised yourself with the local instructions for that particular venue. If any temporary catering equipment is brought in or a food area is set up outside of a kitchen, additional discussion regarding ventilation, hygiene measures and firefighting equipment will need to take place.

In general, the following needs to be considered:

  • Cables should not run across the floor of public gangways or aisles unless if it is unavoidable, in which case they must be secured in order to prevent them from becoming a trip hazard
  • Temporary wiring and cables should be out of reach of the public wherever possible
  • All electrical equipment should be well maintained, appropriate for the venue and within the limitations of the supply available
  • All portable electrical equipment should be safe.
Sound levels

If your event is near a residential area and involves loud music or noise then there could be local restrictions on the noise levels. You should check this before planning a loud event.

For further information and guidance relating to noise, ring our main switchboard number Phone 01484 221000 and ask for the Environmental Health.

Waste management

You may need to make arrangements for additional facilities to deal with large quantities of waste. Hire of council venues generally covers the disposal or a reasonable amount of domestic waste. However, if food has been provided or sold as part of an event, then they won't cover large quantities of waste such as food wrappers.

Technical information

Technical specifications

It is important to establish the technical facilities of the venue you are hiring. Most venues will have a technical specification document which will detail what is available and if this is included in the hire fee or if additional charges apply. You will need to compare this with the requirements of any performances or acts taking place at your event as if the technical systems at the venue are not sufficient enough then there may be costs associated with hiring in additional equipment. In some cases you may even need to bring in an external provider.

Ground plans

It is important to ensure that what you are planning will fit in to the space available while still leaving enough room for your audience. Some venues may have this information in the form of detailed room plans or drawings, while others may give only basic dimensions. It is important to keep this information in mind when arranging acts, performers and activities.

Licences

Most events will require a licence for activities such as:

  • Entertainment
  • Sale of alcohol
  • Children or Young adults performing or working
  • Performance rights for both live and recorded music

Some Kirklees venues are already licenced for entertainment and sale of alcohol, and where this is the case your event will take place under the provisions of the license which is already in place.

For more information about licences and licensable activities visit Licence finder - GOV.UK or go to Licensing. If you need to speak to someone for advice you can contact the Council's Licencing Team on Phone 01484 221000.

To check whether a venue is already licenced and what they are licenced for see the Premises Register.

If your event involves any recorded or live music, it is likely you will need to obtain a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and the Phonographic Performance Licence (PPL). For more information and advice, visit PRS for Music: royalties, music copyright and licensing and PPL - UK and international recorded music royalty collection .

If your event includes children who are working or performing, you will need to consider the requirements for applying for a Child Performance License. Further information can be found on the GOV.UK Child performance and activities: licensing legislation page.

Box office

If your event is 'ticketed' you will need to consider how you are going to sell the tickets. Some venues may include a box office service (use of this service may be a condition of hire in some cases). Where a box-office facility is not provided by your venue, various options are available to you. This could as simple as printing and distributing your own tickets or you could look at using an online event booking service.

Even if you were planning on the event being 'free attendance', you will still need to consider how you will control the number of people attending, as all venues will have a maximum capacity in terms of audience numbers which must be adhered to for safety reasons. Due to this, it is often good to have some kind of ticketing or reservation system even if the event is 'free'.

Marketing

There are several ways to promote an event depending on where your event is taking place, what type of audience you want to attract and where you want to attract them from. Some ways could be:

  • Features or adverts in the local or regional press and newsletters
  • Creating your own website
  • Ensuring your event is listed on other relevant event listing websites
  • Posters and flyers distributed to main information points such as libraries, railway and bus stations, schools and local shops
  • Social media such as Facebook or Twitter
  • Venue-specific literature.
Creative Kirklees

If your event concentrates on arts then Creative Kirklees is a free, user generated online resource to bring together all creative events in Kirklees in one place.

To use the site you need to register to add your profile, events, news and opportunities. To do this, click "Join Network" at the top of the home page, fill out your details and then click "Join Creative Kirklees".

You can share your events or news on your social media and Creative Kirklees can do the same by sharing on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Kirklees Community Directory

If you would like to publicise your events on our website via the community directory (free service) please visit Kirklees Community Directory and follow the instructions for publicising an event or alternatively contact the Marketing Team via Email .

It may also be useful for you to use the Community Directory to search to see if anything else is happening on the same date. This could help prevent any clashes at the planning stage.

Photography

Having an official photographer documenting your event will allow for high quality photos to be taken. These images could then be used for future event publicity.

Consideration must be given to ensuring children are not photographed or videoed inappropriately and to how the images may be used in future publicity. Permission must be obtained from individuals who appear on any photography that could be used in the future.

It is important to remember that photography of people, especially if the images are to be shared publicly, may be subject to GDPR regulations which are there to protect people's privacy and personal information.

Consider also that photography or video at an event where there is an audience, that camera locations may have an impact on the view from some seats. This should be considered before you start selling tickets as some seats may need to be reserved for cameras or other equipment.

After the event

Debrief and evaluation of the event

Get together with the organising team and discuss how the event went. Don't leave this too long after the event as it is best to do this when things are still fresh in your mind. You should think about:

  • Did you achieve your original objectives?
  • Did the event run smoothly? What worked well and what was difficult?
  • Which activities or performances were popular and which didn't work well?
  • Who attended your event? Did you attract the intended audience?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • Gain feedback from the people who were involved with the event such as staff, volunteers and performers.

Gaining feedback and answers to the above questions will allow you to learn and improve for your next event.

Final accounts

It is important to produce final accounts detailing all expenditure and income for your event. This is especially important if you have received grant funding as you will be required to provide your accounts as part of the final evaluation.

It is recommended that you don't pay anything out without an invoice (or that you at least get a detailed receipt) and that you recover any money owed to you as soon as possible.

Keep a record of the event

Keep photos and publicity for future reference. This is useful for promoting future events but you may also need to provide evidence should you have received any grant funding.

Keep a detailed list of all contacts and information about suppliers and performers that you contracted on the day. This means that when you run the event next time, you'll have all of the information already available.

Thanks

If you can go the extra mile to write thank you letters or emails to the people involved with the event then you will likely find that they will be hugely appreciative and more likely to work with you again.