It is raining money at college festivals. With huge budgets allocated for events and big money being given away as prizes, students are having the time of their life. The money doing the rounds at recently concluded Crossroads’11, the annual cultural fest of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) was reportedly a whopping R1.25 crore, out of which R35 lakh was given away in prizes to winners. “A budget which was close to a crore made it possible for us at IIT Bombay to get the legendary Asha Bhonsle to perform at our fest, Mood Indigo,” says Aditi Jain, core group member Mood Indigo 2010.
Besides promising electrifying performances by well-known artists, college fests are becoming the breeding ground for talent. Giving reasons, Jain says,
“Good prizes drive the best talent to the fest. It works like a magnet, attracting the best of thinkers, performers and intellectuals. The underlying basis to hold a fest is to identify and encourage talent. Last year, prizes worth R55 lakh ensured we got the best participation,” she adds.
So where does all this money come from? “We are generally supported by large MNCs like Google, Microsoft, Cummins, VMWare, NTPC etc. which come to the campus for recruitments. Other organisations like Imagine Canada, Contact Singapore and various tourism departments that target the youth also extend support. “This year, we have been able to raise close to R80 lakh for the fest,” says Palash Soni, overall coordinator for Techkriti’11, annual technology festival at IIT Kanpur, which will be held between February 17 to 20, 2011.
Sponsorships save the day for many fests but getting funding is not easy. “Every company seeks some benefit from its association with the fest. Most companies do it to establish a relationship with the campus and improve their campus presence. While for others, it is about gaining targeted branding where they can cater to a certain section of the students. Often, it gets very difficult to convince big companies like Pepsi, Coke, Airtel and the like to pump in money due to our disadvantaged location. However, a strategically drafted marketing plan does the job for us. At our level, we strive to incorporate as many sponsors as possible in different ways like inviting them as judges in competitions, conducting competitions related to their domain and so on,” reveals Soni.
With such high stakes and money involved, the responsibility to pull off the fest with élan is pretty huge. “The preparations for the fest begin eight months in advance. Once the whole team is in place, we start by generating a core idea which governs our work in the coming months – like how to generate revenue, which personalities to invite, how to make exhibitions interesting, which events to conduct, how to increase the fun element. We also deliberate upon what went wrong in the last fest and how that can be improved. All this is very time-consuming, but regular interaction with the previous organising committee helps,” informs Soni.
There are various things that the organising committee members learn on the job. “Two most important skills which we learn from organising a fest are teamwork and leadership. It is only during planning for the festivals that you get to work in teams of 20-plus students and lead some 100-odd students to accomplish a particular task,” informs Abhishek Jain, head, marketing, Techkriti’11.
Ask him if these skills will help during placements, and he answers in the affirmative, saying, “In fact, these skills are valued by companies during recruitments. Organising a college fest also helps us to develop our people skills and learn diverse ways to deal with a variety of people, right from Nobel laureates to the tent-wala,” laughs Jain.