Mastering the world of festival production

Mantwa Chinoamadi, the executive producer of the renowned Standard Bank Joy of Jazz music festival shares what it takes to succeed in the events management and festival production industry

Chinoamadi’s exposure to the industry happened quite by chance more than two decades ago.

As a project management student at the time, she would regularly hang out at the offices of her brother-in-law Peter Tladi – the founder and CEO of music and concert promoters T-Musicman – looking to score a free ride home and save her bus fare.

She was surprised by how much she enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the business. It made sense to join the business when she completed her studies and she soon began working her way up the ranks from artist liaison to general manager.

Chinoamadi has been producing the Joy of Jazz festival for the past seven years. She says staging a festival of this size is a mammoth task that requires exceptional organisational skills, a good ear for music and an eye for spotting trends and up-and-coming local and international talent.

“I was a project manager for many years before I was promoted to producer. I liked it more because I went out there and looked for the music and saw what was happening in the world of jazz,” she says.

READ MORE: Aviation medicine under the spotlight

Making the mistake of thinking that you can take everything on yourself, she says, will only set you up for failure.

“It’s impossible for me to be hands-on with everything, because there are just too many elements that go into staging the event. The key to pulling off a successful festival is to surround yourself with a great team of people who play the game the way it should be played.”

Chinoamadi has been recognised as one of the top 10 music festival producers in the country and while she doesn’t dispute the fact that the industry is typically male-dominated, she says women must find a way of looking beyond this and focusing on getting on with the task at hand.

“It is a male-dominated industry, but don’t go in there as a woman – go in as a person. I’ve learnt to block it out. If you go in there with that mentality, you’re actually going to intimidate yourself,” she advises.

She says obtaining a project management or event management qualification will give you the foundational skillset required for a career in festival production.

“Try to enter the space through an internship or a learnership. It’s easier to do something practically when you’re studying. Don’t wait to graduate and land smack bang in the middle of a production – it’s going to throw you off,” she says.