How do you launch Canada’s biggest music festival in the middle of a pandemic? This is the central question that students in COMS4506: Event Management and Community Partnerships, are exploring this term. It is proving to be a powerful opportunity for experiential learning in marketing and media event planning.

The course is led by Liam Mooney, CEO of Jackpine, a boutique design and branding agency based in Ottawa. Mooney has been a contract instructor in the Communication and Media Studies program for several years.

“This was an awesome experiential, in-field learning opportunity. Working with local community partners like Bluesfest at this time gives students at Carleton unique insights and experiences to take with them as events come back to our everyday lives”.

In partnership with Ottawa’s CityFolk Festival, students travelled to Lansdowne Park, participated in the festival’s production meeting, and had a sit-down conversation with Nathalie Laperierre, the Director of CityFolk Sponsorship, to discuss the ins and outs of festival and event planning, from marketing and partnership development to sponsorship and risk management.

How many people are needed to mount an event of this scale? What is the nature of the festival’s organizational structure? How do you line up sponsors?  What are the unique measures you need to put in place for a music festival during a global public health emergency? How have the festival’s performers and audiences responded?

Students received answers to these and many more questions, and the CityFolk team provided them with ideas about how the festival will change after the pandemic is over.

While students were there to learn from the festival’s media events team, they were also there to provide research-based recommendations for potential sponsorships in the future. Taking what they learned from CityFolk ‘21, the students are now developing proposals to identify potential title sponsorships for the 2022 Festival. Among other considerations, they are addressing issues of space, crowd, marketing, and the kinds of artists that are often attracted to perform at CityFolk.

This is truly a unique experiential learning opportunity that highlights Carleton University’s capital advantage and the strengths of the Communication and Media Studies program in practice-based learning. Not only have students received a backstage pass to how the CityFolk Festival runs, but they are also contributing to the development of one of Ottawa’s premier annual media events.

Monday, October 18, 2021 in
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