Through the eyes of the Apostles – the challenges of accomplishing the objectives

Back in late March I was approached to project manage an exhibition that would be part of the Eucharistic Congress 2012. It was a very ambitious project recreating some buildings unearthed in Capernaum almost a century ago and dated from the time when Jesus was reported to have lived there. The exhibition covering an area of 1,300 square meters was installed in the RDS between June 7th and June 10th using professional crew and team of volunteers through the organisation of CL (Commutation and Liberation Ireland). Like all projects there are many challenges most of which you can plan for, some will be unforeseen and this presents the greatest risk to the overall success of any project.

This exhibition had been done in Rimini, Italy a year previously unfortunately from my perspective no complete set of architectural drawings existed from the exhibition. We did have some good photo references and video footage from the exhibition. There was no inventory of lighting, plants, dressing and all the graphics were in Italian, but still had to be located in Italy.

I  set about working out a schedule over a 6 week period to construct, working out a budget for the overall project with members of CL. Given it was such a large and complex project it would be costly and CL had decided from the outset that there would be no entry charge and the it would be financed through donations. Weekly meetings with CL kept everyone informed of developments and where further information or volunteers could be employed.

From early discussions with The Eucharistic Congress it became clear that there would be only three fit up days available at the RDS Simmonscourt due to contractual issues. In that time all elements had to be loaded in to the arena,  build, rig, light, install sound and visual, landscape and apply graphics. Over 40 people were involved over the three days of which more than 50% of that crew volunteers with little or know experience with this type of work or project.

A team of polystyrene sculptors, scenic artists, a carpentry team, lighting designer and a landscaper gardeners were bought on board to provide the necessary skills in key areas.  A list of volunteers were coordinated by CL in supporting roles to assist were possible. All volunteers were very enthusiastic and willing but lacked the skill and the insight and giving the scale of the project. There was no time for any training of these volunteers and as the project went on, more of my time as a project manager was consumed in explaining and organising volunteers. One of my primary concerns was the safety of all crew, placing volunteers in this environment was increasing those risks, without any proper training. With hindsight if I were involved in such a project again using volunteers, I would appoint a dedicated person who’s sole responsibility would be to orgainse and direct volunteers.

I would like to applaud Communion ad Liberation, who despite no experience in organising such an event and fundraising to cover the costs, overcoming many challenges to accomplish their goal.

The exhibition was a huge success and attended by thousands of people over the course of 6 days in the RDS.

Project Manager: Tom Dowling. Lighting Designer: Mark Galione, Lighting/rigging hire: Production Services Ireland, Sound and Video installation: PH Sound Systems Ltd, Sculptor: Edwin Ryan, Landscaping: Orla Woods/Kilmurray Nurseries. Scenic Artists: Christy O’Shaughnessy and Gary O’Donnell, Construction Supervisor: Stephen Usher, Rigging by Irish Rigging Services.

Click here to read an article written by Breda O’Brien in the Irish Times about the exhibition.

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Categories: Project Management

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