I always enjoy talking with the students and advisors of the activities boards when I visit campus for a show. I enjoy getting to know them and see what activities do well and what their challenges are. It also helps me understand exactly what they are looking for so I can help fill their needs. My favorite question to ask is this: What is the most creative program you’ve ever put on? I have had some great answers over the years but here are the top 4 (for now). This blog post will be updated as I discover more creative events to add.
I was talking with Kelly Harvey at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD when I was there last February and she told me one of the best programs I’ve ever heard of. Super creative, practical, and can get the whole campus involved! They did their version of the popular TV show Cash Cab, instead of a cab they used a golf cart! This is how it works. Someone is driving around campus in a golf cart picking up students in the “Cash Cart”. They offer to give them a lift to their next class, en route to the class they get to try and answer trivia questions for cash, gift cards, or free shwag.
I love this idea. It happens during the day, no one has to show up on time and people get free stuff. For bonus points have another board member in the front of the golf cart live streaming the whole thing to your Facebook page! Also you can use this opportunity to promote your other events. Put a rigid poster of another event you want to advertise for on the side or top of the golf cart. Promoting an event with an event, welcome to expert level.
If you know me then you know I love alliteration. Weekends at WIT is Wentworth Institute of Technology's programming group for the weekends. I was performing there a couple years ago and I asked what their most creative event was. They said human chess. I thought oh cool, then they described how it worked and I thought genius! This is not your everyday human chess, this is how it works. You have a huge human sized chess board. There are a few ways to make a huge chess board: outside using sidewalk chalk, spray paint on grass, or poster board squares laid out on the floor inside a large room. You gather enough people for both sides (32 people). Then you have 2 additional players that will be calling the moves. Each player moves according to the rules of what piece they represent (you can even make chess piece hats so everyone knows what piece they are, or just buy this huge chess game from Amazon).
Here’s the twist, instead of pieces being able to knock each other off according to the hierarchy of the piece, when one piece attacks another they leave the board to battle it out in a game of joust! Whoever wins the match stays on the board. You can rent those big inflatable joust games from novelty companies (my favorite company to work with is Fun Enterprises http://funent.com).
Up, Up, and Away!
Last time I was at University of Georgia Athens I asked them what their most creative event was. It’s definitely creative, might be on the expensive side, but I’m sure it made a huge impact! They were showing the movie “Up” in an outdoor inflatable movie theater on a field and wanted a creative way to promote the movie. So they rented a hot air balloon for the day of the movie and gave rides all day in the balloon to promote the movie. They got a huge turnout for the balloon rides AND for the movie that night! Don't forget the popcorn!
I was at Texas Woman’s University this past October performing my show Summoning Spirits and they killed it! First they had the show in their Hubbard Hall that’s haunted and called it Summoning Spirits in Haunted Hubbard (remember how I like alliteration?). Then as people came into the building they would escort small groups of people with a lantern through dark hallways to the show. The hallways were set up with haunted house like displays around every corner. Flashing lights, creepy mannequins etc… they got really creative! It set the mood perfectly for the show, they had a blast creating these displays, and everyone that attended had a night they would never forget! Booooo!
My Take Aways:
- Promoting an event with another event is a great idea, think of the Cash Cart and Up, Up and Away as examples.
- A movie or performer can be great on their own but can you make it better by making the experience leading up to the show part of the event. Think of all the time you wait in line at Disney World, they always have a story about the ride playing on Tvs, and things to look at while you are in line. All this creates anticipation and a mood for the main attraction.
- Just get silly and break the rules! Jousting in a human chess game breaks one rule of chess and replaces it with an exciting jousting match that will gather a crowd of onlookers who become the players for the next game!
I'll be adding more creative event ideas to this list as time goes on. If you have an event you think needs to be in this list email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to include it!