This time last week I was recovering from a tremendous hangover following a brilliant night of fundraising for the domestic abuse charity in Brighton & Hove, RISE. Tuesday 29th April saw a heady mixture of literary, acting and musical talent battle the London tube strike and M25 accidents to perform for free in front of almost 800 people at the Hove Centre. It was spectacular!
If you didn’t make it , you missed (and in no particular order); Tracey Ann Oberman, Zawe Ashton, Sarah Soemni, Ann Mitchell, Vanquish, Jackie Clune, Clifford Slapper, Julie Graham, Tracey Thorn, Jake Yapp, Claire Cathcart, Rose Collis, Suzanne Moore, Caitlin Moran and Alison Moyet bring the audience to tears, laughter and eventually their feet. Every performer rocked!
But behind the scenes was a whole host of volunteers from RISE and from friends of the organisers that rocked up at various points through out the day, rolled up their sleeves and said ‘okay – tell us what you need.’ They mucked in and helped to make sure that by doors opening at 7.20pm (delayed by last minute sound checks of performers battling 5 hours of traffic) we were set to go. A massive thank you to Matt Ryan for being sound engineer extra-ordinaire, Beach Entertainments for all the lighting and DJ equipment and help, and Mike Lees and Chloe-Meek Foster who ushered, primped and looked after us all.
And behind the whole event itself were some incredible women; Sam Harrington-Lowe, Julie Graham, Astrid Edwards, and the brainchild behind it all Julie Burchill. EVERYONE was there due to them.
So how was I involved? I stage-managed the event. I coordinated the performers in the run up to and on the day, helped to organize sound and lighting requirements and then ran the event from the performance angle that night. And it all happened because one night a friend of my husband’s said her mate was planning a ‘little charity do- most probably in a pub’ and they needed someone to help. ‘Jem will be up for that’-he said. And thank fully I was.
The point then of this blog then is what? Well aside from getting to put my name alongside those fabulous ones above, a couple of thoughts occurred from the experience.
Firstly, Leave your Ego at the door. Post event exhausted drink at 2am with Caraline Brown (who tirelessly promoted event) we were overwhelmed by just how smoothly the day had gone. My theory? No egos were found anywhere. Everyone knew why they were there and got on with it. No debating how best to do things, or annoyance over someone else being in charge. People had their roles and they stuck to them. Sounds like this should be an obvious but unfortunately it isn’t always so.
Secondly, charity-work: when you can do. It isn’t always easy, especially as freelancers in the arts, often paid little or nothing, to then give up precious free time as well. But whilst I know they can’t all be star-studded events, you feel brilliant afterwards and events like this one need people with certain skills to ensure they happen and they should keep happening. Yes everyone involved could have just given a cheque instead of their time, but as well as money that day we raised awareness of a group that offers a lifeline to many in need. Hopefully from the publicity around the event many more will become aware of the incredible service RISE offers and benefit from it.
Finally, a community of very mixed individuals came together, who at other times would never meet or perhaps even like each other; for one night we were all united under one roof in support of RISE. End Of.