VE Day supplier rundown: Arena, PRG, Chromatic, Qdos, Stageco

To mark the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, a who’s who of suppliers and creatives spoke to Access about how they joined forces for ‘A Party to Remember’ and its surrounding events. The celebration took place on 9 May as part of three days of events around Horse Guards Parade and St James’ Park.

Hosted by Chris Evans, the event featured live performances from Status Quo, Katherine Jenkins, Gregory Porter, Pixie Lott, and Chas & Dave. World War II-themed music and dancing ran through the set, punctuated by emotive VT and live interviews with veterans, depicting life during the war and the events leading to the celebrations of VE day in 1945.

Access talked to the key suppliers involved in the VE Day celebrations who faced strong winds and logistical challenges to deliver the event.

Live Nation’s special projects director Graham Pullen led the team, while set designer Peter Bingemann created a nostalgic stage akin to a WWII aircraft hanger, with six LED video screen on tracks across the front of the stage, built by Stageco. The screens separated to simulate the opening of hangar doors to reveal all the performers.

Production Resource Group (PRG) provided a compact lighting solution and rigging equipment. PRG’s team lit the capital’s sky with ‘V’ beams to coincide with the lighting of more than 200 beacons around the country in commemoration of the moment in 1945 when Winston Churchill declared peace.

Requested by production manager Chuck Crampton of Horsepower International, PRG deployed two banks of 16 Icon Beam moving heads at St Paul’s Cathedral and beside Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament, along with two banks of 12 Clay Paky SuperSharpy moving beam heads in Trafalgar Square, to replicate the air raid searchlights seen over London during the Blitz.

Director at Chromatic Productions Steve Nolan said: “Having worked at Horse Guards before, we have been able to pick up on existing relationships with the multiple stakeholders. We have also hosted the BBC’s broadcast hub within our site for their three days of broadcasting from Westminster and St James’ Park locations.

“Tight time frames were made even harder with a day of 40mph winds affecting the build, so we needed everything to go in quickly and accurately.”

The 70m-wide stage’s location on the open side of the parade ground created an enclosed auditorium that utilised some of the seating already in place for Trooping the Colour along with 15 additional blocks of seating installed just for the concert – a combined capacity of around 12,000.

“All production support facilities and dressing rooms had to be located across the road and among the trees in St James’ Park,” said technical event designer Malcolm Birkett.

Arena Group, meanwhile, managed the supply of the audience seating. Project director Martin Clark said: “Having worked with the management team previously in Horse Guards, we combined our experience to position 7,800 seats in blocks on the parade square.”

The company produced a tiered VIP covered stand positioned at the rear of the audience, accommodating 90 VIP veterans, which required a late redesign by the CAD team to accommodate more wheelchair users. “It was finished with red carpet and created a look befitting the status of the veterans,” added Clark.

Power Logistics provided all stage, site and broadcast power for a 1940s themed concert and Parade, held in Horse Guards Parade. Working with Live Nation’s special projects division and H-Power, the Power Logistics’ team designed and managed a complete power solution to ensure the successful delivery of both events.

On-site from 1-12 May, the installation included 10 generators, ranging from 100 to 500kva, floodlighting for around the site, and all cabling and distribution equipment.

 

In addition, there was a specific requirement from the organisers to provide ADA compliant cabling ramps throughout the site.

Elsewhere, Qdos Event Hire supplied more than 20 of its 24’ x 9’ cabins to Live Nation, the BBC and H-Power.

Terry Marsh, Qdos Event Hire’s project director, said: “It is always logistically challenging installing large pieces of kit in a landmark venue. We go to great lengths to ensure that there is no damage to the trees and parkland.

Elsewhere, Qdos Event Hire supplied more than 20 of its 24’ x 9’ cabins to Live Nation, the BBC and H-Power.

Terry Marsh, Qdos Event Hire’s project director, said: “It is always logistically challenging installing large pieces of kit in a landmark venue. We go to great lengths to ensure that there is no damage to the trees and parkland.”

Main picture credit: V at St Paul’s © Nick Herridge