Mark Tasker: Coming to fruitition

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Stand Out meets Mark Tasker, freelance stage manager and founder of Fruition…

In the early 1990s, Stand Out was still at school. But when the Radio 1 roadshow visited the boating lake paddock in Cleethorpes that was it. Desertion. At the same time, Mark Tasker, founder of Fruition, was experiencing the same old thing. Yet he wasn’t an excitable teenager, dancing to Let Loose. He was working with Radio City in Liverpool, producing the same tired old concept that was being wheeled out across the country.

“People weren’t interested in watching party games on stage,” Tasker told Stand Out. “I looked at the PAs being done and thought I can do better than that.”

Corporate Roadshows Limited was born and Tasker formed a team that could entertain on stage and get a message across. He toured locations across the UK with a mobile unit that had a 40-foot stage, visiting the likes of the St Helens Show on behalf of the Liverpool Echo. Massive crowds were gathering and round the corner the local radio station was attracting just a couple of hundred.

“People see roadshows as different things,” explained Tasker. “PR stunts, B2B events, seminars and presentations. We toured the UK in a mobile unit and launched VH1 for MTV, doing 53 shows to cable networks.”

Tasker soon realised that his offer had greater potential than a purely corporate market. He changed the company’s name to Fruition, and at the age of 45 now works on the basis that you only live once and can be immature forever.

“I stage manage Leeds Party in the Park, put together by Sylvia McCann at Leeds County Council. I come in on the Sunday and run the show. They build the playground and then I come and play.

“I maintain that if you walk past a poster site then you probably won’t connect with it, but if you have 70,000 people in front of you in a field and you tell them to jump, they jump. If you tell them to shout, they shout.

“It’s like starting with a blank piece of paper. The key is to make events fun with a message, be completely leftfield and enjoy it when people say ‘I’ve never seen that done before’.”

So what does Tasker think of the current market?

“People expect more. Both clients and public especially with the Internet and more and more TV channels. Everyone saw the fireworks of the Sydney Olympics. People’s levels of expectations are higher. But I think good ideas can be come up with irrespective of budget.

“Today, budgets are restricted but they are a lot higher than they were 20 years ago. In 2010, I think the market will stay tough but the people who are good at their job will always have work. We’ll just all have to work harder, and that’s the way to stay in business.”

Tasker’s latest venture is a new mobile unit, a HD presentation suite that can double as a TV studio, radio studio, training vehicle and hospitality trailer.