How is event planning different at an art museum than another type of venue?
In my 10 years of event planning experience, I have worked for several types of venues, including universities and as a day of coordinator for various venues. MOCA is my second commercial venue where I have been the in-house event planner. My last venue was a winery in Texas, where the priority was the wine, the vineyards and the food. At MOCA, although very similar in many ways, is different overall. For instance, art is constantly changing the space. I could be on a site visit with a client today but in 4 months the art in a particular space would be different. You also have to consider the art's safety first, whether it needs to be de-installed or if it suspends and how that affects, let's say, a dance floor. Another important factor is that the museum is a public space, so managing open hours and how event set up may affect the visitor experience, is a common conversation in our operations meeting. A lot of other venues are solely for event purposes and do not typically have to consider these factors but as a specialty venue, these are always a focal point.
What about MOCA makes it a unique space for events?
Clients who are interested in a museum as a venue usually have an appreciation for art and understand that exhibitions change, so in that way the art makes it unique. MOCA has several floors and multiple rooms, which can host groups from as small as 6 all the way up to 600 guests. It has the ability to transform from a New Year's Eve Gala for hundreds to a corporate networking event among colleagues. MOCA is also all inclusive, so the venue not only comes with on-site catering but also with an in-house event or wedding planner - making it a one stop shop for our guests.
If you have one piece of advice for readers on how to plan a fantastic event, what would it be?
I would say that knowing your budget is the MOST important when planning a fantastic event. The budget determines, how many people you can invite, which affects where you can have the event as well. Budget also determines if you should do heavy appetizers instead of a sit-down dinner, or if you can afford an open bar versus a cash bar. Similarly, knowing your budget also helps with determining if we can afford to outsource vendors, or if this is a DIY event. When planners ask, “What's your budget?” its not to see how best they can max it out, but really to gauge what kind of event, we are planning to host.