THE POPE IN GLASGOW; This Map of Bellahouston Park Shows the Area Where the Mass Will Be Held, as Well as the Numbered "Pens" for Pilgrims

Article excerpt

The Mass at Bellahouston Park is being organised by DF Concerts, the company who stage T In The Park, Scotland's biggest music festival, every year. Here, managing director Geoff Ellis outlines the challenges facing his team.

Q How did DF, a company best known for staging live music events, land the job of organising a Papal Mass?

A Exactly that. Because we stage large-scale music events our skills transfer to large-scale non-music events.

Other than booking talent, selling tickets and marketing bands, the key roles in staging live music events are event management, site management production management and co-ordination of services.

These are skills we have developed over the last 20 years or so. We have produced other non-music events such as ice rinks, lighting festivals and tall ships events.

Q Was it a surprise when you received the request to stage the Papal Mass at Bellahouston?

A We are always looking for new business and had enquired about the possibility some time ago.

Ultimately, we were brought in quite close to the event date. However, as we have worked very closely over the years with Strathclyde Police and the council, we have been able to pull the elements together in a very tight timeframe.

Q How does this event differ from staging a music festival concert or any other event?

A There are actually a lot more similarities than differences. The obvious difference is we are not paying an artist to appear and then selling tickets and the nature of a religious event is obviously very different to that of a concert.

However, the planning process has many similarities. For example, arrangement of stewarding, medical cover, water supplies, accreditation, broadcast and media facilities, building a site and stage.

Obviously, in this instance, the dais is effectively the same structure as a stage. There are perhaps more meetings to attend because this is a one-offevent but many contractors and organisations are the same and the processes that are gone through, particularly with regard to health and safety, are pretty much the same.

Q The Pope leads 1.166 billion Catholics worldwide. How does it feel to be working for someone this big?

A We are conscious the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow due to a huge TV audience and that obviously adds extra pressure to make sure everything is right. But whether we are doing an event for 300 people in King Tut's in Glasgow or 100,000 for the Pope, audience safety and attention to detail throughout are paramount.

Q Is this the largest single one-offevent DF have been involved in?

A Not really, as T In The Park is much more complex, with multiple stages, campsite, car parks etc and over several days. This will be the single biggest capacity event we have done but ultimately it is not much more than T.

Q The set-up of the altar and the positioning of those attending the event differs quite significantly from the last Papal Mass, in 1982. Can you explain the reasons behind that?

A There is a brief that the Pope wanted to be closer to the people than was the case with John Paul II in 1982 but also there are now a lot more trees in the park than there were in 1982 and these obviously affect the sight lines.

Health and safety and licensing regulations have evolved since 1982, and that is the biggest difference.

However, expectations of the public have also changed. People are now used to and demand better facilities, comfort and levels of production than they did back then. …