The Event that wasn’t
Part of the intent of HIVideo was not only to create a film, but also organise a local venue to show the whole Event. This proved to be a lot more work than I anticipated. My decision to host at Falmouth Uni may have been a mistake as each department sent me to another in order to get little things ticked-off before anything would get done. It would seem that nothing would get done unless I called to chase – a strange concept from my work ethos as I am expected to accomplish whatever I am asked to do without the need for the ‘client’ to chase me. While I received verbal permission 6 weeks prior; the actual written permission was not received till 2 days before the event…which could have been extremely embarrassing had this not come through.
In the meantime I had begun to get word out there about the event. Creating an Event page on Facebook and sending out requests to anyone local to ask if they were interested to attend. I asked several local organisations to share the event on their Facebook page and my friends to share it to their timeline too. As the time drew close I posted teaser stills daily to make sure the info was always fresh in everyone’s mind and to catch any new people who may not have noticed. I did not use other social media to such an extent as they are too global whereas Facebook you can target to a local audience. 1,700 people were engaged in viewing the page & out of that 42 people responded as showing an interest in attending. Along with this I created posters that I placed in strategic places on noticeboards around the Uni. I asked one of the Photography Lecturers to email students with information and changed the details on my Grindr & Scruff profiles to advertise.
The result was an attendance of 8 people… 3 of whom featured in my film, one was an acquaintance who had seen the poster in the Library and only one person was a ‘stranger’ who had brought along a friend to see the films. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed by Cornwall’s lack of engagement with the Event. When most other venues had audiences in the dozens & San Juan Puerto Rico had over a hundred attendees.
If I consider the reasons why the attendance was so low. Is it through the lack of interest in the subject matter? Is it that HIV is so out of fashion these days that no-one has any interest in it any-more? This is a terrifying thought as the disease still has the capacity to devastate as well as kill. I noted the BBC news the day after World AIDS Day had a representative from the Terrence Higgins Trust being interviewed about the visit to their event from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42181189 ) – the sole topic of conversation was how the pair related, how comfortable they appeared, their body language etc etc….no mention of the work that the charity do & barely a mention of the word HIV. On the one hand it is comforting that HIV no longer has such shock value, but this is also very dangerous as rates of infection are still far too high and there should be every opportunity to raise awareness.
Is the reason that I should have been more ‘pro-active’ with trying to get people involved? Should I have been chasing people for definite answers rather than giving them the option to attend and allowing them to choose. Should I have been more persuasive in asking friends and friends of friends. But with the intent in being to educate it falls a little short…this would have been preaching to the converted whereas what I needed was people who were not aware of the full facts of HIV.
Was it simply down to timing and weather? A couple of people apologised as they were working and one apologised as he was tired after a long week at work. Early evening on a Friday was possibly not the best choice and bearing in mind it was a bitterly cold evening this possibly did not help. Random students (which I was really hoping to interest) were probably too busy with evening meals and preparing for a night out. But as World AIDS Day is the 1st of December it would be odd to try to hold it on a different day.
Or could it be down to the changing ways we engage with media these days. We seem to expect to access our interests if and when we like at our convenience as opposed to being fed at specific times. We need only look at the way we access television. It used to be we watched what was broadcast at the time it was broadcast; but increasingly these days we watch on ‘catch-up’ via the internet or else we use streaming services to select what interests us the most to spend our spare time engaged with…BBC3 is a prime example of this as it was cancelled as a broadcast service to become an online on-demand option.