Twagira on what it takes to stage successful events

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Bruce Twagira. / Courtesy

Bruce Twagira is an event planner and cultural entrepreneur in Kigali. He has staged successful shows including Sauti Sol’s album tour last year and the recent Mr Eazi’s liberation concert. He had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa on his career journey and the secret to staging successful events.

When and how did you begin event planning?

I started outevent planning gigs in 2009 when I was still in high school at La Colombière. I started as a manager for singer Meddy who had just started his career.

He was looking for someone to help him and I decided to give it a try which was successful despite the fact that I was doing my final high school exams. It wasn’t easy but we finally made it and six months into the career, he was already successful. We continued together as his manager until he decided to leave.

When he left I was torn between continuing as a manager of another musician or doing something different. It was then that I started working with FESPAD and which I realized I was good at it, I decided to opt for event organizing instead.

In 2011, when the Kigali Up started I helped them organize a festival and from there we started to work with international artists and that is when I decided that I had the experience and decided to open my company in the same year.

When was your biggest break?

Last year when I staged my biggest concert with Sauti Sol and Mr. Eazi’s concert. I think that the journey has just began and I don’t know when it is going to end.

Can you say that all this is because of the experience that you have had?

It’s not just about the experience but you also have to believe that something will work out. Events organizing is risky. The Mr. Eazi concert had no sponsors but it was a success. It’s a very big risk but if you believe and it works out, then it’s worth the risk.

What is the memorable event you have experienced?

It was an end of year party and we didn’t expect the turn up we got. We organized with Rwf50,000 without a venue or artiste. I just went to the venue and told them that I would pay them after the concert and if I didn’t get the money I don’t know where I would be right now. There were many other events happening around the same time. By midnight where you expect people to be many and celebrating there were only a handful of people. By 1:30am, I don’t know where people came from but the place was packed. It is these kinds of experiences that keep us moving. The pressure is not easy but it shows me that it’s possible to hold a successful event without enough money as long you plan for it very well.

Do you have any bad experiences with these events?

I have been lucky with these events but I think that my worst experience is presenting a proposal to corporate companies and being turned down. Many think that they are giving me free money yet it’s a win-win situation.

From your experience how do you describe the music scene in this country?

The difference that I have seen with the local and international artists is the team work. Local artists want to do everything by themselves, the stylist, the manager and I think professionalism is lacking in our industry.

What criteria do you use to define quality?

I try not to cut costs of holding shows because most of the time when you’re thinking more about the money you’re going to spend, that is when you start thinking about the cost and how much you are going to spend to make sure you’re going to make a profit. I think long term in everything I do.

It’s believed that the future of music is in live music. What is your perspective on that?

What I don’t like is people underestimating the power of people playing playback. It’s also another style of music because there are many songs that you can dance to when played live. It’s much better to play live but playback is also not a bad thing since everyone has their kind of crowd. Underestimating playback is undermining DJs who also do their best to deliver. I think that the future of music is quality and people responding to it.