What is your role in organising O-Week?
Otago University Students’ Association senior events
co-ordinator Jason Schroeder will be a busy man during
O-Week. Photo by Craig Baxter
I am the production manager for the week. I am also involved
in the research, contacting and securing of acts as well as a
million other bits and pieces.
How has O-Week changed in recent years?
O-Week has grown massively in the last few years, in both the
crowd numbers and in the calibre of acts we are securing.
Having the Forsyth Barr Stadium right on the campus doorstep
has really enabled us to lift O-Week to the standard of a
world-class festival. It's not just the music nights that
have grown, though. The International Food Festival has
really taken off as it has moved to the museum lawn and we
are seeing a far greater public interest.
Is O-Week more important than it was in the past?
I don't think that O-Week is any more important now than in
the past. Sure, it is getting far more national and
international exposure, and the number of students and public
we have attending is growing every year, but I believe that
O-Week has always been a fundamental and important event in
student life here at Otago.
What goes into organising O-Week?
There is so much that goes into organising O-Week! Outside of
contracting artists, OUSA works very closely with Dunedin
City Council, police, Red Frogs, Southern District Health
Board, Forsyth Barr Stadium, and the university to make sure
this is as safe an event as possible for all who attend. The
organisation of all production (staging, lighting etc) is a
huge job and takes months. The OUSA events team starts
working on O-Week in September. We have a volunteer team that
offers more than 1500 hours over the week and could not run
events without them.
How do you attract international acts?
The scale of the events speak quite strongly for themselves.
However, being at the bottom of the southernmost country in
the Pacific can make things a bit tricky at times! We are
able to offer a covered stadium that can host a large crowd
and we have a student population of more than 25,000 in
Dunedin. We work closely with booking agents, promoters and
artist managers as well as looking to see who is touring
around the Pacific region over the period or playing at major
What type of mix are you looking for in terms of acts you
want to attract?
Being a students' association, we look to offer acts that
will have a wide appeal to our students. This year we have a
great mix of hip-hop, indie and electronic, which is really
exciting. Our goal is to try to offer acts that will appeal
to as wide a spectrum of student tastes as possible while
still generating the numbers that allow us to attract major
How happy are you with this year's line-up?
We are incredibly happy with this year's line-up; it's the
biggest we have hosted. Last year we managed to secure
Macklemore, who went on to become a No 1 hit across the globe
as well as win a bag of Grammys. We really did set a
precedent that we have aimed to match and surpass this year.
We have two nights of international artists this year with
Chet Faker & Hermitude and the After Party, which will be
showcasing artists who have headlined Rhythm and Vines,
Future Music and major festivals around the world. We also
have two of the biggest New Zealand acts in Six60 and David
Dallas. Then there is 7 Days.
What will you be doing during O-Week and how busy will it
I will be pretty much living at the stadium from the Thursday
beforehand through to the Saturday after O-Week. My main job
is to liaise with production contractors, artists and the
venue to make sure the set-up runs smoothly and without a
hitch. It will get ridiculously busy.
What is rewarding about the job?
There is something hugely rewarding in being able to stand at
the top of the stand and look down over 5500 people dancing
to the music of an event you have helped built from the
ground up. It makes all the long hours, stress and
hair-pulling worth it.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
A recent study by Harvard University and Careercast.com
listed events co-ordinator as the fifth most stressful career
you can have ... it can get a bit intense sometimes. I guess
it's the fact we are dealing with such concrete deadlines as
there is zero flexibility in when things can be pushed out
to, and if something goes wrong in the 11th hour, it has to
go ahead regardless.