As Director of Events & Services Jules Findlay’s responsibility lies in organising and booking events and heading up the redevelopment of the Union. Attracting the ‘Big Names’ is no easy accomplishment in a small Scottish seaside town; most of the time it is a question of catching the artist if they are performing in Edinburgh or Dundee, such as with Calvin Harris, and asking them to pop over. Students can, however, look forward to Eurodance pop act The Vengaboys, who will be performing in Venue 1 on March 13, which promises to provide uplifting 90s-flavoured pop tunes. The success of this year’s Freshers Week is highlighted by Jules as a personal achievement: testimony to its success is that every event was sold out and the line-up boasted high-profile acts such as Rudimental and Tinchy Stryder.
After a breakfast meeting between the Sabbs, I am introduced to Dave Whitton, the Union’s General Manager. Jules and Dave discuss Graduation Ball and the redevelopment of the Union, due for completion in 2015. Jules credits the fact that last year’s student elections represented the highest turnout for any British university election as one of the reasons that the Sabbs secured a £10m mandate for refurbishment. Glancing at slides of the proposed redevelopments, the Union is virtually unrecognisable and instead resembles a swanky establishment, infusing many different styles of interior design. Venue 2 will be transformed into a ‘Sky Bar’ (a working title at the moment), with full-length windows, and Venue 1 will be split into a club (‘Vibe’) and a theatre, with retractable seats in the middle that can easily slide into storage to create more space. Another possible idea being tossed around is the installation of Skype pods.
The meeting is swiftly followed by another, this time with a candidate for Jules’ role next year, fourth year student Fionnuala Glover. Jules takes his time to explain his role in greater detail; unfortunately there are downsides to the job (such as having your summer consumed with organising Fresher’s Week), which Jules calmly describes as more of a “lifestyle”.
The meeting is followed by an impromptu photo shoot for The Saint. After setting up a stall to sell Goldfish tickets, Jules is then due for a meeting with Rachel Kinloch, Union Design & Marketing Officer. In Jules’ opinion, “the hardest thing to do is promote an event,” as it is both “stressful but fun.” Discussions ensue about the new Union website, which is undergoing changes: so far focus groups have favoured the town outline as a part of the logo to make the website distinctively St Andrean. The topic then changes to Graduation Ball, covering everything from ice sculptures to the price of menus. I learn that the biggest obstacle in booking acts to perform is the time clash with the Glastonbury music festival. One could always just “move the Grad Ball to there…” (this is a joke).
Jules then has an appointment at Uni Hall to talk to Freshers about the upcoming elections. Although I have only shadowed Jules for a day, I feel I have already been given huge insight into a job that demands a lot of patience (in the form of hammering out deals with agents) and focus. Jules’ real aim is to keep the Union fun, fresh and most importantly relevant, in order that it can continue to provide a student experience that is the best that it can be.