Producing Toronto Fashion Week: An Inside Look from Liz Nutting, CSEP
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Toronto Fashion Week is a semi-annual festival celebrating fashion, art and culture in Toronto’s most luxurious neighborhood, Yorkville. Liz Nutting, CSEP, has been in involved in the planning and production of Toronto Fashion Week as the director of events at Production Canada. This week on Experience, we interviewed Liz and got her insights on live events planning in the fashion industry.
ILEA: What were your roles and responsibilities for Toronto Fashion Week?
Liz Nutting (LN): Production Canada was hired to lead the technical production of Toronto Fashion Week. We worked closely with our client to get the Yorkville Village venue to comply with our safety requirements. We also assisted the client with her communications with the city to ensure we received all relevant permits. Working collaboratively with all of the suppliers in the room, we were responsible for the production schedule and site drawing. Once we were on-site, we were accountable for negotiating with city representatives, executing our carefully choreographed production schedule and problem solving throughout the two-week installation period, all while keeping a close eye on the installation, execution and strike of the entire project.
ILEA: What advice would you give to live events professionals planning big events?
LN: My number one piece of advice for live events professionals planning big events is to execute meetings with all stakeholders during the development phase of the process. It could be a meeting with the venue, the city or the suppliers, but the sooner you get everyone into the room, the smoother your production phase will be. If you don’t have all of the players in the room during development, you have no idea what surprises they might throw your way. Like, say, a fire truck in the middle of your site for example!
ILEA: What are some live events trends you foresee coming to light in the next year?
LN: When it comes to Toronto Fashion Week, I defer to the experts to discuss trends. We work with a fantastic design firm that creates custom pieces for the lobby spaces of Toronto Fashion Week. And, of course, we have more than 30 designers who are showcasing their trends for the upcoming season. Between the two of them, they make my forecasting look ancient. So, let’s wait and see what they recommend for Toronto Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019!
ILEA: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced while working on Toronto Fashion Week, and how did you overcome it?
LN: Remember when I suggested you get the city involved in the process early on? Well, for Toronto Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018, we installed a tent in the middle of the high-end fashion district of Toronto called Yorkville Village. This tent took up the entire street, and it was over 400 feet long. The city council approved our street closure, but then the fire department got involved. Apparently, the hoses in their fire trucks could not quite reach the 200-foot distance from the ends of the tent. So, the day before we moved in, Toronto Fire Services parked a fire truck on the sidewalk at the middle of the tent. This satisfied everyone involved, and ended up being an easy solution. But, next time, we will ask to have all city departments in our development meetings so we don’t need to park a fire truck in the middle of our site.
ILEA: How specifically does your CSEP designation help you produce big events like Toronto Fashion Week?
LN: My CSEP designation helps me produce events like Toronto Fashion Week because it allows me to break down projects into four phases: development, pre-production, production and post-production. The content outline for the exam simplifies the event production process into manageable, bite-sized pieces. The real benefit of having my CSEP is that when time gets crunched on specific phases, I know how to execute the other phases in a short time frame. For instance, we only had five days to execute Toronto Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018. So, when we were planning pre-production, we attempted to account for every possible outcome, as we would not have time to problem solve on-site during the production phase. My CSEP designation allowed me to understand the pieces of each phase so I could guide my client through those challenges as they arose.
ILEA: How has having your CSEP helped advance your career?
LN: It took me over 10 years to discover the events industry. So, when I did, I entered it head-on. I immediately joined ILEA, I volunteered on the local chapter board of directors and then, just four years into my career, I took the CSEP exam. Because of my CSEP designation, I have transitioned from a junior production manager at Production Canada into the director of events, Ontario. Production Canada has been incredibly supportive of my career path, but it was the hard work and determination to get my certification that allowed me to grow within this industry so quickly.
ILEA: Would you recommend that other events professionals seek a CSEP certification? Why or why not?
LN: I absolutely recommend that everyone in the live events industry consider getting a CSEP designation. As a matter of fact, I push my team at Production Canada on a monthly basis! Not only does it build your wealth of knowledge within the industry, it also gives you that recognition as an industry expert. This helps you grow both internally within your career, but also externally within the industry. What are you waiting for? Register for the exam today!
Elizabeth Nutting, CSEP, graduated with a bachelor of arts, honor’s degree in drama from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. After working in the theatre industry for 10 years, Elizabeth returned to school for a diploma in Event Management — Event and Exhibit Design at Seneca College. Since joining the events industry, Elizabeth has become a passionate member of the International Live Events Association. In 2017, she was recognized for “her creative vision and determined execution” in her role as the ILEA Toronto President and awarded the noteworthy J. Robert Graves Pioneer Award. Working as an event producer has allowed Elizabeth to combine her natural inclination to manage with her desire to design. And while she sometimes misses her homegrown theater roots, Elizabeth thrives on the fast-paced, large-scale productions that corporate events are expected to create.
Image Credit- George Pimentel