The Only In Nebraska fundraising campaign supports all campuses of the University of Nebraska, including the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
The goal of the fundraiser is to reach at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support University of Nebraska students, faculty, academic programs and research. All of this will help support the needs of the university, the state of Nebraska, and its workforce.
The three campaign priorities are:
- $1.6 billion for student access and success
- $750 million for enhancing faculty, academic, and clinical excellence
- $650 million for transformational research and innovation
As the state’s only public university system, the campuses enroll nearly 50,000 students and employ 16,000 faculty and staff.
The public launch for the fundraising campaign was held in a central location at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (SAC) in Ashland, NE, on November 18, 2022.
Wired Production Group and Advancement Resources were hired by the University of Nebraska to co-produce the event.
The largest challenge with this event was turning a huge airplane hangar into an intimate fundraising awareness event venue. The site itself was quite large, so mapping out the space to turn it into a quaint location for an event like this posed quite a challenge. Additionally, the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum had never hosted such an event before, so holding an event of this magnitude was unfamiliar to them.
There were also logistical challenges, such as when a member of the Wired Production Group went to SAC six months before the event and noticed that an airplane tail was sticking out into the room area — and the plane couldn’t be moved. Decisions had to be made on how to incorporate that airplane tail into the event’s floor plan.
Additionally, there were a lot of university leaders and committees invested in this event where approvals were needed. It was often difficult to get decisions made with so many people involved in the decision-making process. Some convincing had to take place to get certain visual effects and other ideas approved. This involved trust-building.
Turning An Airplane Hangar Into An Event Space
To get a feel for the event space, Wired Production Group owner Ron Rausch went to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (SAC) a year in advance to look at the space and plan for the event. Ron met with the point of contact at SAC and explained what was necessary to make this event happen – things like the need for planes to be moved, for semis to come in and unload and other requirements for the event. All of this was foreign to SAC, so they needed an “Event Production 101” education. Trust was quickly built between the Wired Production Group and the SAC team.
After Ron returned to Cedar Rapids with all the venue details, Wired Production Group mapped out the entire space and began planning for the event.
At the six-month mark, they realized that one of the planes couldn’t be moved, and the tail stuck out into the event venue. The team put their creative thinking caps on and decided to turn the plane’s tail into a visual prop so it looked like it belonged there. They projected the university’s logo on the airplane tail and incorporated the plane into the event!
Since the event was an airplane hangar, the ceilings were exceptionally higher than most event venues. To help create a more elegant space and make the ceilings seem less high, the team brought in specialty 14-foot-long crystal/beaded light “curtains.” The beaded lights were programmable with different colors. Wired Production Group programmed the lights with the event’s theme colors that changed throughout the evening. These lights helped diminish the height of the space, made the room look classy, and filled the space nicely.
The stage was set up, lighting fixtures were installed, and they carpeted the entire hangar area, all while working around and with other vendors who were also setting up before the event.
The other vendors helped make the event space work well, too – including the tables, chairs, and table decorations.
The project took five days to set with 24 people from our Wired Production Group crew alone, plus at least 10 stagehands. We installed 170 lighting fixtures for a two-hour show. The event experience left the audience in awe.
Getting Everyone On The Same Page
The planning team wanted a creative way to show videos to the attendees, so they had the idea to create a custom projection screen in the shape of the state of Nebraska – which fit with the theme of the fundraising campaign. However, it was difficult to try and convince decision-makers who weren’t in the meetings that it would look nice and work well.
Wired Production Group has used this visual strategy with other colleges and universities before. So, the decision makers could see samples of their work on the Wired Production Group website and, in the end, they felt confident that it would look good and work well with their event. The projection screen in the shape of Nebraska was a big hit with the attendees!
Turning an airplane hangar into a successful event:
The projection screen in the shape of the state of Nebraska was visually stunning and had an impact on the audience.
Wired Production Group is a team that knows what they’re doing and has creative ideas. Knowing what they’ve done for other universities, I know they are great at what they do. For me and our team as event planners, we didn’t have to think about it. We knew they would take care of it. They are incredible professionals, and they’re fun to work with.
Current University of Nebraska Fundraising Progress:
$1.9 billion 121,331 unique donors
Learn more about the campaign on the University of Nebraska Foundation website.
Connect with our team at Wired Production Group to get the same results that the University of Nebraska did with your next event. Just contact us today, and we can help you with your live, virtual, or hybrid event.
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