Just flicking through the pages of this magazine is testament enough to the strength of the lively and ever-changing entertainment and nightlife scenes of Melbourne. With so many incredible venues and amazing promoters out there keen on taking advantage of the deeply creative spirit of the city, it’s a thriving and prosperous field to be involved in as a punter – but just as much so for those behind the scenes, running the events, too. Wanna get a foot in the door? The Entertainment Operations course at William Angliss is designed for those seeking an edge in the entertainment industry. From clubbing to fashion shows and beyond, students will be expected to learn the art of art of running professional entertainment events, and with a course plan designed to respond to the changing landscape of the industry, students gain a practical working knowledge of promotion and production coordination, whilst getting hands-on and working with top fashion labels, first class performers and internationally recognised DJs in Melbourne's premier entertainment venues.
The course, headed by Peter Abram, has been around for a long time – no surprise, given Abram’s extensive background working in entertainment industry hotspots such as Berlin, London and Australia. “We started in 2000 – I came back from England then. Because I was working as a part-time English teacher and a part-time promoter, I got tired of teaching English – I wanted to teach what I was good at. Event management used to be about meetings and conventions, that sort of thing. William Angliss are always interested in any innovations and new ideas – there’s a very entrepreneurial mentality there.”
Don’t expect to enrol in the course and find yourself cruising through the next few years, however. It’s a tough industry out there, especially in the face of the current ailing economy, and slackers need not apply. But the rewards for those who do put in the effort are immense, it seems. “The main thing is feeling all the real pressures of an event. Do they like the long hours? Do they like that inevitably as a promoter? They’re a bit of a dogsbody – taking care of other people’s problems,” Abram says. “Are they used to the constant pressure? Are they happy with that? When we do the course, we try to heap the pressure on them to see who comes out – it’s amazing, the students who emerge who thrive on it, and you can never tell who it will be. When you enrol in the course, there’s all the clichés like dedication and hard work, but most of all, the ability to pick yourself up when things are down, the ability to stay positive – it’s the ability to handle failure as much as success that will keep you in the game. You have to take charge of your own identity, and your own story.”
Despite the many pressures of the industry, there are also many rewards – working in a consistently-evolving field, meeting all manner of talented people and throwing parties and gigs in the city’s trendiest venues sounds a little more appealing than the standard nine-to-five cubicle farm death sentence that many of us receive. To Abram, the constant learning process is what appeals the most.
“Putting on shows and productions – to me, it’s like doing a bank job, you’ve got to get all the right people with the right skillsets,” he explains. “Or like cooking – changing all of the ingredients, getting the right balance. When you get a really good team together, and put on a production, things go well and it’s the greatest thing in the world. What’s been difficult in the past ten years is doing it with a class – every class is different, and you’re doing it with different people every time. If you get a really good class, that’s great – but then they all graduate! New students come in, and you gotta go through the whole thing all over again. I couldn’t do my job unless I absolutely loved putting on productions. We’ve changed event management in Victoria – certainly education. We’ve pumped out so many graduates who’ve gone out there with a really good skillset that it’s changed the kind of shows that they do. There’s a fantastic event management department and it’s a very exciting time to be working with them. We’ve expanded and become really international, there’s talk about developing new programs, all sorts of things.”
With the new generation of entertainment industry young-guns slowly but steadily claiming their rightful places in some of the most dynamic positions the industry has to offer, things are looking up. “When we put on our student shows, we always have dancers, models, fashion – when we have those things, the performers themselves bring down as many people as the promoters do. We’ve never produced a flop, failed to get in enough people… there needs to be more of a collaboration between club land and the arts. It seems bizarre to me that they’re two different industries, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
With Abram on his way out, seeking new and exciting adventures on his career path, the Entertainment Operations course will no longer be headed by him as of next year. But the future’s looking bright for it, with Abram planning on staying behind on a consultancy level. “We couldn’t have done this without the industry – the agencies and press have all helped us to get started,” Abram says, humbly, of his work with the institute. “If it weren’t for these organisations, we wouldn’t be here today.”
BY MIKI MCLAY
For information in Entertainment Event Management classes at the William Angliss Institute visit angliss.edu.au.