WOW what an intense few day’s it has been….................!
A lesson in the power of digital disruption & communication.
Carrigaholt in County Clare is a small fishing village on the Loophead peninsula, it has a population of around 64 and the entire area is heavily dependent on visitors and tourism, we moved to the village two years ago having visited the area for many years.
Due to the Covid 19 lockdown all the preparations for the Villages annual Oyster & Trad Music festival had been cancelled, like the rest of the world, we are in strict lockdown.
Spirits are low and everyone is suffering economically.
As the May Bank Holiday Festival weekend came round I had an idea….what if we could put out some clips and images of the festival from last year to remind everyone we are still here and maybe give our community and those who are missing us something to look forward to?
The problem was I only came up with the idea late on Thursday evening and then threw it out ( very recklessly ) on Friday morning to the festival committee. It was decided to go ahead and I was asked quite sincerely and reasonably if I actually knew what I was doing.
Here is a run down of what happened:
9.45AM Idea put to the Festival Committee
10.45 AM Announced to local businesses via the Loophead Digital Academy Zoom Meeting
11.00 AM Facebook Event set up and posted on Facebook( no going back )
11.05 – 1.00PM Facebook has an error and shuts down for 2 hours (mass panic sets in with absolutely nothing but an idea and a few clips from last year prepared …)
Thinking fast…. I made an appeal to the committee for help, and over the next few hours they all produce personal messages from Carrigaholt as we show images of the village looking beautiful but completely empty. This was backed up by some video from previous years festivals…………
but then the magic started to happen!
5.56PM We are sent a magnificent exclusive live recording by a local singer with a personal message for the festival From Miltown Malbay to Carrigaholt, the amazing Seán O’Malley.
6.00PM -10.00PM As the word begins to spread more and more original performances begin to arrive, and its hard to keep up with the speed at which the Festival is developing, a hastily prepared 10.00PM slot is created with original performances and at this stage I am really struggling to keep up and post them onto the facebook page because some are arriving via whatsapp, others from messenger and all are all arriving from different accounts. Not to mention the broadband cutting in and out..no pressure at all.
12.00PM Flop into bed, wondering what on earth I have done.
8.00AM Stunning morning in Carrigaholt , so more footage taken to show our virtual festival goers what they are missing…..more exclusive performances arrive throughout the day
2.00PM posting out a mix of previous festival videos and new performances and getting completely backed up as the posts are coming in from all different directions across a variety of media and seriously struggling to keep up!
Scramble through another day and push out what we can, all from a laptop in my Kitchen that has become VirtualfestHQ ,tethered through my phone with no proper broadband connection. Kept going with a fabulous seafood platter from the local restaurant take away menu and a much-appreciated bottle of wine. Remember we are social distancing; I have no local knowledge and am being supported long range!!
5.00AM Cant sleep and frustrated that I am unable to get all the video performances out from Whatapp to facebook , I finally work out how to get them all onto youtube and by 7.00AM have a festival channel set up.
12.30 PM Interviewed by the Local Radio station Scarriff Bay Radio
2.00PM Beginning to feel some calm as now able to schedule the facebook posts out for later and at the same time create a full online festival over on the Youtube channel. More exclusive performances arriving throughout the day
10.00PM We have created a Virtual Festival out of an idea, a wonderful community, the right technology and most importantly the willingness to give it a go! Building up more buzz throughout the day for the lineup of exclusive festival performances due to go out at 10.00PM. Everything scheduled and ready to go, I sit down rather worn out with a large glass of chilled white!
10.30PM I receive a message from a friend ( or guardian angel ) asking when the performance will start……………after picking myself up from the floor I check out the tech and realise I have set up the entire thing in the wrong account.
Fortunately, I was able to swap it across quickly and figured that everything starts late here in West Clare so have probably got away with it.
So that’s a brief rundown of what happened with an idea, social distancing, enough digital knowledge, a laptop, unreliable broadband, mobile phones, buckets of coffee, a few bottles of wine and an incredible community.
The momentum is still running to the extent we are running a bonus festival next Saturday,have a slot on the Irish TG4 News and have especially recorded performances from New York, San Francisco, The Lakes of Ponchartrain, as well as from all around Ireland.
The main lesson for now is to trust your digital skills put yourself under a ton of pressure and you will be amazed at what you can achieve and how much you will learn.
If you would like to see the Virtual festival check it out with this link to Youtube