From scouting almost every probable sponsor in the market to zeroing down the theme from the veritable bazaar of ideas, and most importantly, organizing a fiesta and taking the crowd in awe, have always been the priorities of a fest coordinator at VSSUT, haven’t they?
Neha Prusti and Rituparna Pati from Team ViSSion, in a candid chat, at length with the coordinators of the three annual fests for the session 2017-18, (Abhijit Mishra, Coordinator, Illumina 2k18- The Sports Fest, Apurwa Masook, Coordinator, Samavesh 2k18– The Techno-management Fest and KV Vivek, Coordinator, VaSSaUnT 2k18- The Cultural Fest), finds out, at length, WHAT IT TAKES TO FABRICATE A FEST IN VSSUT?
Team ViSSion: What motivated you into bearing up the brunt of the Coordinator in your respective fests? And how has your journey been this far from first year till being the Coordinator?
Abhijit: First of all, let me tell you that Illumina, the annual athletic meet of our University, is a kaleidoscope into the gamut of the sports society; there’s a lot more to it. I have been into sports ever since I was a child and sports has always been an indispensable part of my life, more like an extension of myself. Since the freshmen year itself, I have indulged in various sports meets conducted in the varsity. Being the Illumina CR, I was quite close to the seniors who were much into the sports scenario. Consequently, I got to know how things worked here and evidently, the lacuna at various levels. At that point of time, I realized that it’s better to take the responsibility of this space than to rely on someone else, as I knew I could shoulder it better than the best. That’s about it. I took my chances and here I stand!
Apurwa: People wish things to happen, but they never really do anything about it. And if I have the ability to do something, I must not fail to do the ‘something’ that I can do. To restore the lost charisma of the techno-management fest of the most reputed technological institute of the region, was what motivated me to step out of my niche and take the responsibility of being the Coordinator. Speaking of my journey; in my freshman year, I was a regular participant and not an organizer. As a sophomore, I was the Idea Club attaché for Samavesh 2k17. We assisted in raising few sponsors for the fest and organizing the Idea Club events. The then ground experience made me realize, how necessary it is to be a student coordinator in order to shape a fest the way the crowd craves for it. Then I set out, grabbed the opportunity and here we are!
KV Vivek: I have been culturally inclined since childhood. I used to see various fests and used to think what it takes to organize it on macro scale along with keeping up with them the micro details. I do regret my decision in the first year of not being the CR of VaSSaUnT 2k16, but I was lucky enough to be a helping hand, then. In my second year, I was in the organizing committee and realized that it is not just a single fest, but an amalgamation of all the six cultural clubs working in coordination with each other. I realized that there is a lack of cultural exposure and we could get that by participating in different fests all over India. So, in the third year, all the cultural club coordinators, including me , fixed targets ; first to have exposure and next to have the necessary equipment for smooth functioning of all clubs and then, take the cultural fest a level ahead from a meagre cultural function to a real cultural sensation and we hope we did succeed there somehow…
Team ViSSion: Give a 5-pointer checklist for how you planned to organize your respective fests in the campus.
- A good organizing team: It’s the most important part of a fest without which conducting a fest is next to impossible. And I would say that I was blessed to have the best organizing team.
- Budget Management: In a fest, with a stipulated budget, a proper budget planning is crucial to get things done in a smooth fashion, without having to compromise with the quality.
- Hospitality: The hospitality of the Chief Guest and Guest PETs is an essential part as it accounts for the overall impression of the varsity.
- Event Scheduling: An event list along with a proper schedule is necessary and one should make sure that all the events are conducted as per the schedule, keeping in mind the time restrictions.
- Crowd Management: Crowd always takes sides in a game and man-handling is more of a common dictum here. As sports includes aggression, so crowd management becomes crucial.
- Vision: Imagine something exciting; you don’t have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.
- Team: A circle of like-minded & determined people beside you.
- Budget: Formulate your incomings and outgoings. Have a firm control over it.
- Expectations: Be it the administration, faculty, seniors, juniors, friends; to each its own. Remember, you can’t make everyone happy.
- Risks: In certain circumstances, you ought to ignore the odds, the logic, the noise, and just trust your own instincts and follow your intuitions.
- As mentioned earlier, we need to raise stakes higher every time, along with keeping the merriment quotient.
- Be calm while taking decisions as sometimes you need to follow your instincts.
- Try to do something new and interesting; don’t be redundant.
- Team help is of utmost importance and you should always be there for them, appreciate them for their smallest works and remember them.
- Lastly, as my fellow coordinators said, budget should always be in your mind since the geography of our University puts many a constraint for the same.
Team ViSSion: Do you consider the respective tech/cult/sports fests in other colleges as a competition or more of an inspiration? If the former, where do you gain the inspiration from. And if the latter, who do you consider your competitors then?
Abhijit: In my opinion, the one with whom we can compete is our own self. And success, in my point of view, is the progress which we have achieved so far. So, I go in favor of inspiration. For that very reason, we have a lot of sports tours conducted each year in order to enable the students more insight. And talking about the sports fest in other institutes, it’s always been a place to learn. Somewhere we lag behind, somewhere they do. Sometimes we do great and sometimes they do. But, each time it has offered something to learn. Sports is basically excitement and aggression intertwined, and hence, gets quite unpredictable. Organizing a fest, including various sports events is tough indeed. So, ups and downs are dealt with, and end up teaching us how to comprehend various situations.
Apurwa: Inspiration! I’ve been on various international platforms. Visits to diverse countries with huge deal of socio-cultural and technical differences has given me exposure into what the real world seeks. It’s very important to explore, get exposure and to enrich the self. The experiences go a long way and help me envisaging the fest of me dreams. They have been a very positive source of inspiration for me, and have made me question, “Can we do this here at Burla?” Before we assume any fest as competition, it’s important to know there are literally hundreds of factors at play; different geography, different setup, different echelons, etc. I would say, look in the mirror; that’s your competition!
KV Vivek: I agree with both of them. I have been to various cultural fests and have noticed their way of working and management. It surely gave me an assortment of ideas and an advanced way of working things out. But like my friend Apurwa said, ‘at Burla’, there are completely different constraints as compared to other colleges. All that matters, is what you have done with the available resources are at hand.
Team ViSSion: What is your say on the involvement of institute authorities? Is the degree of involvement right now, justified?
Abhijit: Well, the answer to this question is the backbone of everything we do. These people always work and have our backs, while we take all the credit. The authority has always been supportive. There were situations when odds were not in my favor but the support and involvement of the authority gave me the courage to move ahead. But there were scenarios when it became difficult to work due to the difference in opinions and mismatch in the frequency of work. Although the authority supports us, the sports society needs more attention than it has now.
Apurwa: Considering the fact that it is a government institute, it has its own share of long intricate procedures, which I am not a big fan of. But in my opinion, to follow the ‘proper channel’ is equally important, as it not only decentralizes the power, but also teaches the significance of organizational hierarchy. Running from pillar to post in the administration is an imperative part of our work throughout the year. But I really hope if some reforms could be brought out in the administration to ease it a bit, we could devote more of our time towards the actual proceedings of the fests.
KV Vivek: In a cultural fest, there are only a handful of people in the institute authority who are actually interested in providing a helping hand. Here the point is, there is no comparison between the situation in our institute and that in other imperial colleges, it is rather a comparison between the willingness of the respective authorities of both. If you have the will, you can definitely make a fest bigger and better, for a fest is the result of collective efforts of both the students and the management, indeed.
Team ViSSion: How important do you think is participation of people from other colleges? Does it help establish VSSUT as a brand?
Abhijit: We have a lot of sports tour conducted every year. It lets us know about various institutions and we frame an idea about that institute. Participation of people from other institutes gives us an opportunity to showcase what our University is capable of. Moreover, it challenges us to conduct the fest in ways to leave a deep imprint in their mindsets about what and how VSSUT is. And talking about VSSUT as a brand, it depends on the people who are attending and the level that we set. ‘VSSUT as a brand’ is simply a perception, in my point of view.
Apurwa: Inter-institute participation is equally important as intra-institute participation. Getting visitors from outside is a real challenge for every fest, to make the fest trending and the talk of the town. Hence, it helps a lot to spread the glamour and enhance the brand value of the institute.
KV Vivek: I don’t know if participation from other colleges makes VSSUT a brand, but surely there will be a great exposure for our students. Being a part of the institute fests and participating with all the high spirits, one would definitely know how much one can push its limits, devise new ways to adapt to challenges being thrown through numerous events, how to survive good competition because that is what is needed at the end of the day for a place like VSSUT. These points imbibed in students are sure to establish a path for VSSUT to become a brand.
Team ViSSion: How would you describe the process of obtaining sponsorships? How do you plan the assigned budget? Do you think good sponsorships change the face value of a fest?
Abhijit: Good sponsorships can change the face value of a fest as they provide us with a space to meet our demands. Focusing on the budget planning; budget, being an extremity and me, being a Coordinator of the sports society, I have always set a threshold for my expenses. This threshold helped me to economize my expenses and thereby, helped me to keep a reserve which proved beneficial at the times of need.
Apurwa: The process of obtaining sponsorship requires persistence. It’s not going to happen overnight. For me, it started three months before the fest, and lasted three months after the fest. We ended up raising sponsorship more than the annual college budget! Pick the right person to approach. Don’t be afraid to remind people regularly, but also don’t be one of those freaks. It’s about offering a multitude of perks in return, making the sponsors believe it’s worth it and delivering beyond their expectations. Proper allocation of the resources will hence enhance the face value of a fest.
KV Vivek: My sponsorship team was led by Apurwa. Perseverance is a must, as getting sponsorship is a mammoth-like task. While planning budget, one should know his priorities and accordingly distribute the budget. For example, while spending the capital for cultural extravaganzas, my first priority was getting an artist who can entertain the crowd and also will be in our reach and same was the case with the EDM artist. Always keep buffer amount for emergency, for it will be of great help. Be ready for the last minute ‘jugaad’, which, according to me, can minimize your cost. Be creative to try things out which give you more fun than it really costs. I believe that good sponsorship helps a lot in changing the face value of a fest.
Team ViSSion: Compared to what the core secretariat looked when we were in first year, now we do not see any female student even as an assistant secretary in any of the major fests, let alone as a secretary. However, we obviously see no bias in the number of girls toiling hard as Organizing Committee members, nonetheless. What do you think is the reason that is pulling them behind from grabbing the limelight?
Abhijit: Since my first year, there has always been a female assistant secretary in the Sports Society. We, the people, do need a female student as an assistant, as I have seen the extreme level of effort girls put in. Well, coming to the number of girls at the apex, it’s their lack of presence in the interview. What I have personally seen during my interview, their numbers are quite low. It’s not the prejudice that’s working here, rather it’s the lack of suitable delegates.
Apurwa: Even though a female student may not hold a post, but her role and contribution in making the fest whole is colossal. It is highly commendable, the work they could do which guys can’t imagine of, despite so many restrictions.
KV Vivek: See, according to me, girls are capable in leading at the forefront, but according to the current circumstances, it is quite not possible, and that too for a fest is pretty hard, the prime reason being the hostel in-time. But in these years, we have witnessed more girls coming out and leading at the front with great efforts. I think leading a fest has more to it, than the gender one falls into. One needs to come out of its comfort zone; so, if someday a girl leads a fest, that day would be a sign that we are progressing and more than anything, talent is being judged.
Team ViSSion: What do you feel was the highlight of your respective fests this particular year? Was it better than the previous editions, and if so, explain how?
Abhijit: What else can be the highlight of a sports fest if not the sport! We started off with the ‘torch’ as usual, but unlike the other years, we had a marathon comprising of around 50 students. We followed it up with a gala opening ceremony with various traditional dance forms and aerobics. The rest of the fest had the same glory as it ought to be. And, was it better than the previous editions? It’s for the people to ponder.
Apurwa: The biggest highlight this year was ‘Maker Fest Odisha’. The idea behind was, being a University of such splendid repute that boasts of innovation, there was never provided a platform to promote it across the entire state. It was like organizing another fest beside a fest with its own set of complexities. Other highlights included the mesmerizing ‘sand art show’, the enthralling ‘theme music’, the ‘amusing standup comedy’ and the inclusion of ‘out-of-the-box events’. These stuffs never really found a place in the previous editions due to budget constraints but were integral to the face of a grand Samavesh, this year.
KV Vivek: VaSSaUnT 2018 saw a lot of engrossing events, starting from the ‘Silent DJ’. Next was definitely the rock band, SPUNK’. This year, we mainly focused on the exposure which could be possible by workshops thanks to all the cultural clubs who arranged fabulous workshops like acting, film making, art and photography as well as content writing workshops. Getting ‘THE SCRIBBLED STORIES’ was also a tough task. We tried it previous year and failed, but this time with the help of the Literary Society, we were able to arrange it. EDM is popular, so it enhanced the feel of the DJ night. Popular YouTube artist and stand-up comedian, ‘Aakash Gupta’ and ‘Bhubaneshwar Comedians’ did a fantastic job for the laughing hearts in the auditorium. Happiness on the faces of people, is the reward to our hard work. If the crowd enjoys the fest, our efforts are definitely paid off.
Team ViSSion: Well that sure was an illuminating chat with you three. Any parting words for Team ViSSion?
Abhijit: Team ViSSion, not only reports the happenings but it’s also bringing into everyone’s view the mishaps, and therefore is really informative. And thanks to you for giving me a chance to convey my experience. Good luck for the years to come!
Apurwa: Thank you Team ViSSion for this opportunity. And cheers for being proactive and putting in your ardent efforts.
KV Vivek: Team ViSSion had a great vision and you were on fire all year round. Be it reporting the raging topics or polls or reports, you guys have always been the best. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy, and as far as our institute is concerned, ‘thevission.org’ is the only pillar for democracy in VSSUT. I wish you all the best for upcoming years.
While some sponsorships and events took place smoothly in the fest season, some had to face last-minute cancellations from sponsors and the authorities, but the amount of efforts and commitment the student organizers put into planning a fest is commendable. Team ViSSion, lauds all the student organizers and the management for making fests at VSSUT, replete with ample exposure, rejuvenation and merriment.