This July the UK will experience it’s first ever drive-in car park parties, starting with a 3 day event of theatre, karaoke and comedy at Powdersham Castle followed by 3 days at Henley Festival.

In the lead up, we caught up with CEO and Founder of Coalition Agency Guy Robinson about the planning that went into the Car Park Party events, along with tips and inspiration on how to adapt through these changing times….

You’re hosting the UK’s first ever car park party this July. With this being the first of its kind, where did you go for resources and expertise?

We are very lucky at Coalition to have some fantastic industry contacts, built up over the last 25 years. And with most people being at something of a ‘loose end’, pulling a first class team together was remarkably easy. I’ve been humbled how much time our friends of the business have put in to make the project happen.

With plenty of Covid-19 restrictions to consider, what steps are you taking to ensure customers will be safe at the event?

The guidelines around safety are a continuously moving target, and we’ve built various scenarios from the current 2m social distancing down to none. From socially distanced toilets, digital tickets you can scan through a windscreen, through to ordering food and drink on an app, we’ve worked incredibly hard to minimise any human contact across all of our sites.

There must have been some unique challenges and discoveries during the planning stage, could you share a few with us?

This project started as a suggestion from one of our agents who saw the opportunity to put on events yet safely maintain social distancing. At a time when we had a ‘doomsday’ prediction for the business, all our energies were instantly put into this. Launching a brand usually takes months, Car Park Party was realised and put on sale in less than 20 days, a hugely impressive feit. 

Beyond the timescales, our biggest challenges currently are working with licensing officers and Safety Advisory Groups to reassure them we’ve truly thought through the delivery, from ingress of cars, to socially distanced performers on stage.

You chose karaoke, comedy and theatre for this weekend event. Where did the inspiration come from? 

We originally planned to do a traditional movie offering alongside comedy and karaoke, the latter being inspired by a certain English TV presenter and his now very famous in-car YouTube series! We represent an act called Massaoke, they were perfect for a show like this, huge screen behind them which could be seen from the cars displaying the song lyrics, and a variety of shows to suit all ages.

We dropped movies due to ongoing licensing challenges, such that outdoor cinemas weren’t going to be given approval to show many of the blockbusters for weeks to come, and we believed timelines were much tighter than that window. We moved on to Car Park Theatre and have formed a partnership with the simply brilliant Horrible Histories who will perform their stage show, ‘Barmy Britain’.

As for the comedy, we’re honoured to be working with the mighty Comedy Store, and let’s be honest, everyone could do with a reason to laugh right now!

Coalition Agency are known for creative solutions that make artists careers sustainable. In a world where many industries are having to be as creative as ever to survive, do you have any tips or inspiration to share on how to adapt through changing times?

Our saying at Coalition is ‘none of us are as good as all of us’, and never has that been more true.

We have a great management team with a wealth of experience, none of whom wanted to accept furlough payments which we knew wouldn’t save the business, so we ploughed on regardless. It was important to us with ‘Car Park Party’ to get as many people back to work as we could, both inside the business and beyond. And I guess that’s the secret sauce behind all that we do, ‘passion’.

Is Coalition Agency doing anything as an organisation to adapt for now and for the future?

My personal belief, despite not being widely held in the industry, is that we’re going to come out of this crisis somewhat sooner than expected, and I’m concerned to see so many businesses pretty much writing the year off. The costs and impact of that are huge, so many self employed modest earners prop up live entertainment, I fear how many will be lost to the industry. 

For our talent, especially those whose live income represents the bulk of their earnings, simply switching off gigs for such a long period has challenged them both on a financial level, but also with mental health, and we’ve done as much as we can to help them through that.

In terms of the business, working from home was an adjustment for the whole team, but a change we’ll embrace much more moving forwards, we’ve been cloud based for some years, but it took this period to realise we can effectively work remotely. We’ve also really embraced Zoom, amazing to now know not only what our clients look like, but also how well or badly decorated their house is!

Guy Robinson – CEO and Founder of Coalition Agency