Party Clinic: Meet your budget - Let there be light

Transform a venue with clever use of lighting and drapes, all within budget.

No creative event is complete without the wizardry of lighting.

Event Lighting and Design managing director Mark Beaver explains how to create an amazing party with lighting on a budget.

To stay within a budget for lighting makes the presumption that a budget has been set and, secondly, that it is realistic. However, it defies belief how many times people come to us and say that they have £1,000 in their budget when in reality their ideas would cost £2,000 just for the power distribution before a single lamp has been installed.

But you do not require an extraordinary budget to create an amazing event.

Working closely with your lighting designers during the planning stages of an event ensures the outcome will meet your expectations.

Our knowledge and relationship with London's museum and gallery spaces means we are usually able to advise clients over the phone, but for larger events we recommend a site visit before submitting a quote. It is essential that lighting isn't an after-thought.

Developing strong relationships with your lighting suppliers also means budget problems can be resolved easily as it is in everyone's interest to ensure the end result is fantastic. Our company supplier list has hardly changed over the past 10 years as we feel that we can lean on them when we have a tight budget

Understanding the opportunities and the limitations of the selected venue will allow for the clever use of lighting.

Carefully consider the attributes of the venue and ensure you spend your money where it is really needed.

It is better spending money making one room look incredible rather than trying to stretch your budget across the whole event.

Finally, creativity should not be limited by budget. Once a budget is agreed, the physical parameters of what is possible in relation to equipment and labour is set, but the creativity and imaginative process is not.

Don't get carried away with a mass of moving-light technology if you have a tight budget. Lighting designers worth their salt should be able make any space look amazing without relying on this type of equipment.


Blackout project manager Kevin Monks explains how drapes provide the perfect finishing touch to an event.

From rigging crocodiles in the River Thames for British Airways to dressing Earl's Court for an opulent after-party environment at The Brits, drapes specialist Blackout has dressed a variety of events on a variety of budgets.

Blackout project manager Kevin Monks has been involved with the company for the past eight years. He says: "People think that we only cater for large-scale and large budget productions when in fact we also provide practical and creative solutions for the smallest projects."

Blackout's ability to provide draping for a plethora of budgets comes from holding a vast range of drapes and star cloths in stock in a variety of sizes.

To achieve the right draping for a particular budget Monks believes it is best to work with clients from the outset and offer inventive solutions for even the smallest event. "When budgets are limited we can suggest that 'less is more' - a big effect can be created using quality fabric that is imaginatively dressed," he says.

Blackout's experience means it can offer advice from the start of a project.

Monks adds: "Our business is to interpret creative briefs and realise client's objectives, whether it's a fringe theatre show, a private party or an international show."

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