The Prince's Trust Urban Music Festival returned to Earls Court last month with high-profile artists including Will Smith and Xzibit, plus Estelle and Craig David - both ambassadors to the youth charity - performing to a 16,000-strong crowd.
Mobile communications giant Nokia took the helm for 2005 as title sponsor, aligning itself with an edgy urban culture following the success of sportswear company Umbro's sponsorship of last year's inaugural event. Nokia created an interactive urban zone affording visitors the chance to get one-on-one lessons in a range of new activities, including basketball-themed streetball and free-running sport parkour. Guests could also try the latest games titles on N-Gage QD and investigate the most up-to-date mobile technology.
"Without Nokia the festival would not have been possible," says Prince's Trust project director Ellie Gray. "It's a credible brand that appeals to the young people we work with. We hope to have an ongoing partnership that will take our youth brand strategy forward and get young people's lives back on track."
Nokia also supported the Urban Marketplace area, which offered the latest fashion, music and media brands including businesses that have received help from the Prince's Trust.
"We supported an event that allows the Prince's Trust to connect with young people and is a great opportunity for Nokia to showcase its latest handsets and technology to this key audience," says Nokia Mobile Phones UK head of marketing Simon Lloyd.
Additional event workshops offered the chance to learn a range of new skills such as the basics of music producing, MCing and Bboy techniques, which ran alongside practical advice on DJ'ing and beatboxing. With all the workshops fully booked during the festival, more than 1,000 visitors enjoyed expert coaching in their field of interest.
Communicating with the young target audience was very much the aim of the game and remained the underlying theme throughout the day. "The Prince's Trust is a youth charity that helps young people get their lives back on track. This year's festival was about reaching out to help young people across the UK through the music and culture they live every day," says Gray.
"The urban scene is a major part of youth culture in this country and we're using its powerful influence to engage with young people. We are promoting the positive routes to success through the urban industry and celebrating the urban culture of music, fashion, art and sport. Nokia Raw regional talent nights were held by the Prince's Trust in the lead-up to the festival, and were about investing in young people and developing their skills to give them a chance to get their lives sorted," she adds.
The Prince's Trust had a core team of 15 staff working on the production, management, content, marketing and communications of the festival, while also contracting numerous suppliers to become involved in the event.
Eighteen-year-old production agency Nine Yards was brought on board last November to provide the site production. "This is a really interesting show and theme, particularly because of the two stages," says Nine Yards production manager Tony Wheeler.
"There are few venues big enough to accommodate this. Also, because there were so many different elements, it took huge amounts of co-ordination with the screens, stages and zones in the periphery," he adds.
The planning stages for the event didn't always run smoothly, however.
Despite being billed as a two-day festival, the unreliable nature of some urban artistes saw it cut to just a single-day event. "Unfortunately we were unable to secure guarantees of enough artists for two days so we ensured we had a fantastic one-day festival, the biggest multi-artist urban festival in London in 2005," says Gray.
Sadly, much of the post-event press for this year's event has been dominated by accusations of a serious sexual attack on a fifteen-year-old girl during the festival. A Prince's Trust spokesperson says: "We are extremely shocked that such an alleged incident may have occurred and we are co-operating fully with the police."
It remains to be seen whether Nokia will choose to continue its sponsorship association with urban music events.
Nokia Urban Music Festival with the Prince's Trust
Date: Saturday 16 April
Venue: Earl's Court
Organiser: Prince's Trust
Event production: MD Production Solutions
Stage and site production: Metropolis/Nine Yards
TV production: Done and Dusted
Event content organisers: The Jump Off; Liquid State; Urban Voice UK;
Hooch Events; Deal Real Records
Stage and set: Atlantic
Shell Scheme: Dalesgate
Catering: Eat to the Beat
Barriers: Eve Trakway
Set design: Lisa Lillywhite
Health and safety: MRL On-site power: Power Logistics
Security: Show & Event Security and Showsec
Crew: Show Stars
Sound: SSE Hire
Rigging: Unusual Rigging
Cabins: WG Search