I began planning the Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS) along with my colleagues in May 2020 when we believed Covid-19 to be a short-lived reality. Over a year later I am still planning the event during a worldwide pandemic. It is not the final year I expected or desired however, I have come to learn a lot about myself and my own flexibility in logistical and operational decisions. I am the Venue Director for DUCFS, a show that raised £171,000 for charity last year. With this in mind, I embarked on a journey to plan a Covid safe event, that could raise money for charity.
DUCFS 2021 campaign will aim to fund the technological partnership between CREATE and 3 SIDED CUBE. Our funds will be going towards a sustainable, social impact driven partnership that harnesses both creative and technological brilliance. Our innovative partnership focuses on pairing the wonderful creative arts charity, Create, and notable ‘tech for good’ agency, 3 SIDED CUBE. Join us in supporting these inspiring organisations in their quest of igniting change through tech for good.
Excitement was great at the beginning, discovering the many possibilities we could pursue, and the opportunities afforded to us with hard work and relationship building. However, by Christmas, the atmosphere amongst the team was tense. We had all worked so hard to forge relationships with external companies and designers and it almost looked like a show was impossible for us to achieve, but still, none of us lost hope. We knew that with enough flexibility and compromise that there were many possibilities to create something of note throughout this year. Not only did we focus on our creative output but also our events that utilised technology instead of being in person.
The Tent on the Racecourse
For the physical show, a marquee seemed like our best chance of realising our vision. Although we were keen to attempt this on our own, it became clear that the proposition of a giant marquee that could house us was supported by the University. Deciding to stage the Fashion Show as part of the Tent on the Racecourse arts festival seemed like the best course of action.
I do not believe that either the University, or us as a group, could have foreseen how many blocks and barriers would need to be overcome to be able to provide some sort of live experience due to Covid restrictions. At times it has felt like everything was against us as a group, although not always seemingly true, there were times where we had to draw on inner strength to persevere through the stressful and less than ideal circumstances and restrictions placed on us. After some serious conversations about whether a restricted show was worth it, the whole Exec so believed in the show and the DUCFS organisation, that we all voted to stay on and execute a brilliant show for what is for many of us, our final year.
I joined the Marquee planning committee to utilise the skills that I already gained in eventing and aid the University in its pursuit of a working events space. I have never worked on anything of this size or scale, and it has been invaluable to view the inner workings of such a venue. Covid-19 has added so many layers of complexity, there have been many frustrated Zoom and Teams chats, but conclusions are always reached. The future of DUCFS and the University event looked vulnerable. We have worked incredibly hard to rebuild reputations and connections with business partners and clients. Without them, this Fashion Show might not even have been possible. Despite this struggle, we have found a way through the difficulties and have been able to maintain the great reputation afforded to us.
I am very proud to have been involved and only hope that the flexibility, determination, and solution-based thinking that have had to be nurtured during the pandemic, will aid me in all future endeavours.
Find out more
About DUCFS here
About the tent on the Racecourse and events taking place here
About Durham’s unique student experience here