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Work experience at Riba Rocks festival

How seven LSBU students enhanced their CVs and gained valuable practical skills working at an off-the-grid festival in Barcelona, Spain

All of our courses are designed with employability in mind. We work closely with industry when designing our curriculum, and our academics use their outstanding contacts to secure guest lectures, work placements and research opportunities with the biggest names in their respective fields.

The opportunity to gain relevant work experience while studying is a key part of the educational experience we offer, and part of what makes us – and ultimately you – stand out from the crowd.

Opportunity of a lifetime

It’s a philosophy endorsed by Pauline Muir, Course Director for BA (Hons) Arts and Festival Management.  In 2015, Pauline was able to give a group of seven students from the course the work experience opportunity of a lifetime, at the Riba Rocks festival in Barcelona.

Working across departments

“The opportunity came up as the result of a contact we originally had in the Drama department,” says Pauline, “which shows how important it is to work across departments and faculties to give our students the best possible opportunities. The couple who run the festival are British, and came to LSBU to talk about their aims and objectives for Riba – which is where the idea of giving students the chance to work at the festival first came about.”

Electronic music festival

The electronic music festival is an eco event that takes place in September, and is home to art workshops during the day. The students and Pauline worked on all aspects of the festival, including stewarding, manning the box office and patrolling the campsite.

First-hand experience

“Due to the high temperatures – it was forecast to be in the 40s – and because the location was a dry olive grove, it was critical that cigarettes were disposed of appropriately and there were no open fires,” says Pauline. “As a result, the students gained first-hand experience of some of the elements of risk management in a festival environment.”

Unexpected circumstances

As an off-grid festival, the group also learned about the particular challenges of running such an event, as well as how to deal with unexpected circumstances. “On the first day, despite a forecast of very high temperatures, it rained all day and no vehicles were able to come onto the camp site,” recalls Pauline, “so all activities had to be cancelled.” “It was a challenging experience all round – we worked in six hour shifts and often during antisocial hours. Even when the students were able to get to bed at a sensible time, it wasn’t always easy to get to sleep because of the volume of the music,” Pauline continues.

It was a great team building exercise, and the students all saw for themselves the opportunities and challenges of running an eco festival – something that will enhance their CV and help them to show future employers that they have the practical skills needed to support their theoretical understanding of how to manage events and festivals.

Pauline Muir, Course Director, BA (Hons) Arts and Festival Management