Programming is a very important element of your planning, it is the ’what’s on’ of the event, creating the experience for the audience. Balancing your audiences expectations with the limitations of your venue/event area and budget is crucial.

The content of your event will affect what equipment you need, the type of licence you may need to apply for, and the appeal of your event for your target audience. Some questions you should consider when planning the programme of your event include;

  • What age range will your audience primarily be?
  • Will you need to vary the programme according to the time of day, for example, to programme content suitable for young children during the morning or afternoon?
  • Where will you source your artists or attractions?
  • Will they be professional groups, or performers from the local community?
  • What equipment will your performers require to be at their best? A PA? A stage? A dance mat?
  • Will the entertainment be live, or will it have elements that are pre-recorded?
  • What sort of licence will the entertainment require?
  • How will your artists get to your venue, and what hospitality will they require when they are there?
  • Will they require dressing room facilities or catering?

The type of entertainment that you provide at your event depends largely on how much money you have got to spend. However there are various ways of controlling these costs by exploring some of the following ideas which can often not cost anything or very little:

  • “Open Mic”, where members of the audience are invited to perform.
  • Asking sponsors to provide activities/performance as part of their offer.
  • Local community groups, schools, educational institutions etc are a rich source of talent.
  • Talent Competitions can help to engage new performers and are an excellent way of engaging a local audience.

You may also find it useful to read Knowing your Audience in the Marketing section.

The quality of the experience for your audience is not only defined by the artistic programming. It is worth considering other attractions that can help keep your audience entertained. For example;

  • Amusements and attractions – such as fairground rides or a bouncy castle
  • Merchandise and traders – to provide quality food and drink, local produce, or arts and crafts from local or international traders
  • Special effects, such as fireworks
  • Site decorations, such as bunting, plants or attractive seating areas

These attractions can also help to bring in income for your budget. For example, you can charge a pitch fee for traders, or levy a small charge to your customers to use your attractions, such as £1 to ride a fairground attraction.