3. Event Equipment and Facilities

The amenities and equipment required for an event depend on what activities you will be presenting and what sorts of people will be attending.

For instance, older people may require extra chairs and perhaps disabled toilets, young children may need a play tent, and mothers may need a baby-changing area.  These sorts of considerations are essential to ensure the comfort and safety of people attending the event.

3.1 Parking and Access

If you are providing off-street parking eg. in a park or paddock, make sure there is strict control of this area. Attendants who control the number of vehicles entering will play an important role in ensuring the smooth flow of traffic to and from the area.  Service clubs may be approached to provide parking attendants in return for the opportunity to collect donations.

Special parking passes and designated spaces will need to be set aside for performers, stall holders, event workers and special guests.  These should be issued before the event day.  They should be easily identifiable and hard to copy.

Access for vehicles to load and unload equipment and goods at the stage and other areas will need prior consideration.  If using large vehicles to transport equipment, it is important to ensure free access from the roadway to the closest door to a building or gateway to the outdoor stage.  During the event, you may need to maintain vehicle access if further equipment is to arrive.

Be aware that you may need to check whether the surface of the park, reserve or field you are using is able to withstand the weight of vehicles.  There are restrictions on the taking of vehicles onto public parks, some of which are cared for and controlled by the Sports Council.  For more information contact Infrastructure Services on (02) 4560 4647 or council@hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au

If you have a choice of entrances then select the one which will give the loaders the most direct and easiest access to the stage area.  Stairs, very narrow hallways and crowds are to be avoided.

Special passes may be useful to identify vehicles that have permission to enter restricted areas.  These should be issued in advance along with information as to where to enter.  Gate attendants should be advised of all special pass holders.

3.2 Security

If event equipment is being set up on the day before the event, you will need to arrange security to monitor it overnight.  In addition, if you are expecting large amounts of money to be collected or if alcohol is to be served, security will need to be concentrated in those particular areas.  Security firms must be licensed, and for large events police may be engaged.  This service must be paid for by the user.  Make sure security people are clear about their role and how situations are to be dealt with.

Special passes may need to be issued to artists, performers stage crew or people who require entry into areas with restricted access.  Security should be advised of all special restricted areas and passes.

3.3 Lost Children

Large events or ones that are likely to attract lots of families should have a lost children's area, located near the children's stage or activities.  This can be a tent or stand.  The location of the lost children's area should be promoted throughout the event and should be monitored by experienced carers.

3.4 Information

It is recommended at large events that you have an information stand in order to provide event details to members of the public.  The stand should be staffed by personnel who are familiar with the event and the venue. Common queries include:

  • Location of toilets
  • Programme of activities
  • Location of food/drink

3.5 Signage

Signage should be used to indicate:

  • toilets
  • first aid
  • entrances/exits
  • lost children's area
  • names of stalls
  • information tent/stand
  • sponsors
  • map of the event site
  • parking
  • food and drinks

Some signs will be available commercially, others may have to be made up.  Look under 'Signs and Signwriters' in the Yellow Pages for companies that produce and install signs.  There may also be other signage associated with road closures and parking restrictions.

3.6 Tents and Marquees

If you require tents or marquees look in the Yellow Pages under 'Hire - Party Equipment'.  Scouting & guiding organisations may also be able to help.  Tents and marquees should be set up prior to the event for large events and at least two hours before the event at a smaller event.  Consider the security of the area, and take appropriate action if they are likely to be vandalised, see 3.2 Security.  If there is to be a marquee you may want to consider installing artificial floors, check that the ground is level.

3.7 Tables and Chairs

Don't forget the importance of good seating and tables, particularly near food stalls and in shady spots. Some seating in front of the stage may be appropriate.  Select chairs carefully.  Make sure that chairs don't collapse when sat on, and tables don't tip when leaned on.  You may wish to provide trestle tables to stall holders or other groups.  These can be hired from commercial hirers or you may be able to borrow them from local churches, community centres, schools and service clubs.  A small fee can be charged to stall holders to cover the cost of procuring tables on their behalf.  Most commercial companies will have insurance included in their hiring fee.  You may have to arrange to transport the chairs and tables yourself or they may deliver.

3.8 Decorations and Special Effects

Local schools, service groups or other community members may be able to provide painting, sign writing and other decorating services.  Decorations can also be hired or bought from theatre companies or commercial organisations.  Balloons and ribbon can be bought fairly cheaply from a commercial wholesaler.  Special effects will be more costly but can provide focus and drama for events.

3.9 Fireworks

If you are planning on having a fireworks display it is recommended that you engage a reputable, professional fireworks company (see the Yellow Pages under 'Fireworks') with public liability insurance of at least $10 million and preferably $20 million.  Alternatively, you may obtain from WorkCover a temporary one-day permit to purchase and display fireworks.  Permission will only be granted in certain circumstances, and for bona fide community events.

A guide for fireworks (single use licence can be obtained from Workcover) Ph: 131050, Hazardous Activities hotline Ph: (02) 4321 5499.

3.10 Toilets

Approximately one toilet for every 125 people will be adequate for most situations.  More are required if alcohol is to be served.  If wash rooms are not available on site, it is recommended that toilets with handbasins included be hired, as well as toilets for use by people with disabilities.  Look under 'Toilets' in the Yellow Pages.

3.11 Rubbish Bins

"How To Make Your Event a Waste Wise Event"

Make sure that there are enough bins, that they are emptied as often as necessary and that the costs are covered in your budget.  Application for more bins must be lodged upon application to use the public area.  Costs associated with the provision and collection bins are $140 for 1 to 10 bins and $280 for 11 to 25, with an emptying fee of $10.60 per bin (2011/2012 fees).  For large events, it is recommended that a special contractor is hired to manage the clean up of the event.  In this case, the event contractor will need to work in with the regular cleaners to ensure all areas are covered.

For more information, contact the Infrastructure Services on (02) 4560 4647 or email council@hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au

3.12 Communication

On the day, access to a phone is very useful at all times, and essential in case of emergency.  For large events you may need a communication system, particularly if staging a number of activities or using a large area.  Two-way radio systems are available for hire.  Ask the hiring company you choose to check that the frequency your Radio Transmitters are set to is not being used by another organisation in the vicinity.

It is also important to have a communications plan in place in case of disaster or emergency, specifying who is to contact whom and how. The plan should identify contacts such as Emergency Services, Fire Brigade and Ambulance.  See more:

3.13 Electricity and Lighting

You will need to know specifics of your power use such as:

  • where you need power supplied (it may be necessary to run cables from the power source to your equipment) 
  • the electrical loading and number of phases required
  • the date and duration of your electricity requirements (this may extend beyond the event period for set up and dismantling)

NB. You must use a registered electrician.  In addition, you will need to ensure that all power usage is covered in your Health and Safety plan.  For instance, you will need to make sure that wires are kept out of the way, not likely to be tripped over and that dark corners are kept to a minimum see 4.3 Insurance, Damage and Health and Safety

If you are using an existing power source in a public space, try to arrange to test the source (and the key to the power box) before the event date.  This can prevent inconvenience and delays on the day.  If a power source is not installed at the venue, generators of varying capacities can be hired (look in the Yellow Pages under "Generators").  You can request a silent generator if the machine will be near to performers or otherwise disruptive.

For information on three-phase power see 6. Stage Management and Equipment.

If the event is to be held during the evening, or if the event set up and pack down is taking place in the dark, lighting will be essential for visibility and safety.  Floodlights and other forms of temporary lighting can be hired.
Look in the Yellow Pages under 'Lighting' and 'Generators'.

3.14 First Aid and Lifesavers

It is essential to provide first aid facilities no matter how small the event.

For small events, having a first aid kit on site, access to a phone as well as a person who has been trained in basic first aid should be sufficient.

For larger events, you must have a registered first aid provider on site.  Book St Johns ambulance online at www.stjohn.org.au or contact St Johns on 1300 360 455.  This needs to be completed 6 weeks prior to event.  Give the first aid provider at least 6-8 weeks notice and be prepared to make a donation or pay a fee.  If there are any water-based activities at your event you may also require the service of trained lifesavers.

Everybody involved with the event should be aware of the location of first aid sites and they should also be signposted and indicated on site maps.

3.15 Catering

There are two types of catering that may be provided at an event:

  • Catering for the event attendees
  • Catering for the performers, event workers and sponsors/VIPs

Selling vendor rights to suppliers of food and drink can be a good way to raise income.  You could sell a vendor package which includes all or some of these amenities, eg. one bin, stall, a power source, two chairs, to stall holders.  Note that there are strict requirements for temporary food stalls (see 4.1.4 Food Stalls and Permits.)

If the performers and event volunteers and workers are at the site for long periods of time and/or working for little or no fee, they need to be catered for at the event's expense.  This can be achieved by coming to an agreement with some or all of the caterers to recognise a meal voucher ticket that will be redeemed by the organisers after the event.  A hospitality room or tent can be set up for this purpose.

3.16 Where to source equipment

Stage equipment can be hired from commercial hire companies: look under 'Theatrical Supplies and/or Services' in the Yellow Pages.  If your budget is limited you could approach local school, churches and community centres etc. as they may have equipment you could borrow.
If you can transport the item in your car or a borrowed vehicle you have already saved money.  If the item is too big and requires specialised transport, this may be an extra cost - especially if it needs to be transported outside the metropolitan area.  Ask your suppliers what form of transport is most appropriate for the equipment you have hired or borrowed.

3.17 Dealing with suppliers

Before you approach a supplier of goods, services or activities you should be clear on a number of points:

Know as much as possible about the event.  You should be able to tell your supplier the date, the time, the venue and, if possible, the programme.  If you are clear on these details you will appear to be a reliable person and can therefore expect reliability.

Be clear about what it is that you want the supplier to do.  Do not treat them as if they are a bottomless well of resources.  Make sure that the person knows where they fit into the team structure, and establish with them the steps necessary to do their job.

In negotiating the cost of the service, know the price range in which you are prepared to negotiate. This will probably require asking around beforehand.  The size of the fee often determines the quality of the service.  If the fee is high, you can ask the person to contribute a lot within their job description.  If you are getting them at little cost, do not expect them to do much beyond the initial agreement.

Once you have reached an agreement, it is essential you formalise it by writing a 'letter of confirmation' or 'contract' setting out the conditions.  This will outline all tasks you expect, the method of payment and the details of the event.  If you have a programme available at this stage, enclose a copy of this as well.  The 'letter of confirmation' should outline:

  • All tasks agreed to
  • Timelines
  • Method of payment
  • Details of the event
  • Details of special passes regarding security, parking etc.

Make sure all verbal agreements regarding changes and conditions are agreed to in writing and signed by both parties.

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