Thursday, March 15

Creative Excellence = Creative Collaboration

As we get ready for an action packed spring, filled with some big shows across the country, we find ourselves working to bring creative excellence to each and every one of our clients.

It may sound simple, but we believe that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum – creative excellence happens through late nights and early mornings at the office,  site trips, drawings, designs and most importantly collaboration. At Bow & Arrow we’re fortunate to work with an incredible team and work with some incredible clients. Collaboration leads to those inspiring conversations, ideas, concepts and projects that help create incredible productions.

And as we gear up for this exciting spring, we can guarantee we'll be working hard to bring creative excellence to every project we work on!

Stay tuned and look for updates on these projects this spring! 

Site Visit For Upcoming Show

Wednesday, March 7

Spread the Word to End the Word

We rarely get “political” but on this topic – we’re more than happy to jump in.
It’s been a proud week for Iowans when both the Iowa House and Senate passed legislation striking the term “mental retardation” from Iowa Code.

As proud producers of the 2006 and 2010 USA National Special Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, we have truly been privileged to work with thousands of Special Olympic Athletes, their families, and coaches. Each athlete always seems to bring a sense of enthusiasm and zeal unmatched by anyone – and always are a true inspiration.

 Knowing no limitations – these participants give it their all every step of the way, truly defining dedication and courage. For each of us on the production team, there always seem to be moments that stand out most. Whether it was the moment when the Special Olympics Flag was raised, the instant the cauldron was lit, or perhaps the moment that thousands of athletes, spectators and fans stood cheering a fellow participant, we all leave the event a little changed and with a gentle reminder that anything is possible if you put your mind and heart to it.

For all of us at Bow & Arrow, there is no doubt that the National Special Olympic Games will always hold a special place in our hearts. This week, we couldn’t be more proud of the state we call home in their effort to take a step forward to show each and everyone of these incredible individuals the respect they deserve.

For more information on how you can get involved visit the Special Olympics site or to learn more about the “Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign” visit their site here.

2010 National Games

Monday, January 30

Year in Review

2011 was a one of a kind year with one of a kind shows. From the beautiful shores of Maui to the electric pulse of Vegas, the breathtaking foothills of Austin to the historic halls of Washington D.C., we traveled the country focused on one goal; communications fulfillment. 

Our team worked hard this year making ideas and concepts become beautiful realities that motivated, inspired and pushed businesses and organizations to constantly reach and exceed their goals. 

At Bow & Arrow we believe in producing more than just good audio, video and lighting - we believe in producing an integrated communications package - one that will most effectively share the message of our clients. We understand that budgets are always a concern, and that's why our unique approach also guarantees to give our clients the most value in the market for their communications and production dollar. 

In 2011 we developed innovative and creative ways to effectively and passionately share our client's messages and produce their events from coast to coast… and in 2012 we plan to do it all again. 

Enjoy just a few highlights from last year and from all of us at Bow & Arrow, we hope your New Year is off to a GREAT start!

Tuesday, November 22

From Texas to the Windy City

In mid October, as temperatures were falling in Iowa, we welcomed the heat of Texas with open arms, as we headed south for an exciting new show.

Texas brought incredible views, a serene venue and a dynamic and informative show, as we produced the 2012 Kia Motors National Press Introduction. Nestled in the hills outside Austin this show took place at Travaasa Austin, a resort overlooking Lake Travis. As luck would have it, the drought stricken state got rain the first two days we were there, making outdoor rehearsals a challenge. In typical Texas form, however the rain stopped and we were back to business.

While working in a variety of buildings and locations around the property we incorporated the beautiful scenery into almost everything we did. From the set design in the business meeting, to staging the outdoor car display, we truly embraced our surroundings.

Working in such a serene environment brought the challenge of not disrupting the resort atmosphere. As one can imagine, semi trucks, loads of lights, speakers, sets, and computers, as well as a full production staff, aren’t always staples of a resort experience.  We creatively found ways to fit technical gear into the landscape for outdoor events, move in and out of the show venues during off hours and create beautiful events around the property in a quiet and discreet manner.


While half the team was in Texas, the other half of the Bow & Arrow team was in Chicago and hard at work preparing a two day business meeting for over 600 participants. The show brought together a dynamic set, striking visuals, and a variety of presenter formats.

The Chicago show highlighted our commitment to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to communication and production. Everything from the set design, graphic design, lights, audio and video, as well as the show execution and management fell under the Bow & Arrow umbrella. We understand the importance of a company's ability to effectively communicate their message to both internal and external audiences, and all of us a Bow & Arrow are dedicated to making that a success. 

Hunting for a Cause

At the beginning of October, we had the opportunity to volunteer our services with the North Branch Wildlife Foundation to help with their annual Whitetail Challenge. The Whitetail Challenge is an event dedicated to allowing disabled hunters the opportunity to experience hunting in some of Iowa’s greatest hunting grounds. Over a dozen hunters joined friends, family, guides and volunteers just outside Earlham, Iowa for a weekend of hunting and hospitality.

The weekend began with an opening dinner and program on Friday night followed by 2 days of early morning and dusk hunts. Each hunter was paired with a guide that would assist during these hunts. The Whitetail Challenge is also equipped with handicap accessible blinds and lifts, including a hydraulic lift that would carry hunter (wheelchair and all) and guide nearly 30 feet in the air giving them perfect position for both morning and evening hunts.
The 2011 Whitetail Challenge also hosted the inspirational archer Matt Stutsman, an internationally known armless-archer, who broke the world record for longest accurate shot in September of 2011.  The weekend was topped off by several demonstrations from Matt.

Matt Stutsman

Bow & Arrow Productions is proud to volunteer for events such as the Whitetail Challenge. For more information about the Whitetail Challenge or how you can get involved visit 

Monday, September 26

Kicking Off the Fall Show Season!

Hard to believe that fall is officially here! With fall comes a show we do every year with one of our oldest and very valued clients, the Iowa Bankers Association.

It’s great to see how this event has evolved since we joined them nearly 15 years ago... from a small production, to the elaborate sets, sophisticated video pieces, and dynamic speakers of today.

This year, our client was celebrating 125 years of their convention, so the set combined relics of old photographs, with new and modern pieces, creating an innovative and exciting platform for presenters and entertainers alike.  This set played home to some exciting presentations from speakers including best selling author Dan Clark, the always exciting and extremely entertaining Dr. Lowell Catlett as well as an inspiring story from Richard Picciotta, Chief of the New York Fire Department on 9/11.

Dr. Lowell Catlett presents
It’s always great to do shows right here a “home” and equally as great to have such a terrific and long lasting partnership with a great client. Congratulations to The Iowa Bankers Association on 125 years of successful conventions - it’s been our honor to be a part of them!

Friday, August 26

Sacred Acre Book Release

A week ago today our staff had the opportunity to work on a very unique event in small town rural Iowa.  If you are not familiar with the Ed Thomas story, I encourage you to take a minute to watch this short video on Ed's life.

This tragic event shook the Aplington Parkersburg community but as Coach Thomas taught them, you have to get up and dust yourself off to move forward.  With an incredibly resilient spirit, the community has come together and rallied after this tragic event, led again by the Thomas family.

Coach Thomas’ life and legacy has now taken another step towards being properly remembered in a book titled the Sacred Acre.  The book captures the story of Ed Thomas’ life and the remarkable path of forgiveness and grace which the Thomas family and the community showed after this tragedy.

Last week we had the opportunity to produce the national press event and official book launch of the Sacred Acre. It was truly an honor bringing together family, friends, government leaders, local and national celebrities, former players, NFL standouts and community members into a powerful night, launching the book and celebrating the legacy of Coach Thomas. 

Sacred Acre Book Launch

We we're also joined by an artist we absolutely love working with, Michael Sarver, who performed 3 powerful songs for the event.

Michael Sarver

Coach Thomas' life work lives on in every member of the community. From the moment you drive into town, Falcon Pride is as strong as ever and the values and lessons Coach taught for so many years are present throughout the town.

While getting ready for this event we had some time to visit main street of Parkersburg where we were welcomed like it was home. Going in and out of local stores, visiting with store owners, residents and a few town guests, you couldn't help but be floored by strength, resilience and warmth of this small Iowa town. In almost every person or family we met, we hear a story about Coach and the lessons and values he taught.

Parkersburg, Iowa

A common theme among Parkersburg residents was that they were better people for knowing Coach Thomas.  We couldn't agree more. What an incredible town, incredible story and incredible event. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have spent time in the A-P community and with the Thomas family.

For more information about Coach Thomas or to learn more about the foundation his family has created in memory of him click here.

And be sure to order or pick up your copy of The Sacred Acre today!

What's new at Bow & Arrow

It’s been longer than normal since we’ve given you an update on our blog and for very good reason.  In the past few months we’ve literally traveled coast to coast having the opportunity to work in some amazing venues.  In this post we’ll highlight some of our summer travels and preview a few new things coming to Bow & Arrow this fall.

Line Leaders
The summer season started in Orlando with a week long corporate forum event.  These meetings are extremely content heavy so our clients rely on our staff to help them incorporate their content into the technical aspect of production.  For us this is more than clipping on microphones and playing videos.  Many times we are working through speeches, powerpoint presentations and print material. We enjoy this process because it gives us the opportunity to assist our clients in creating a lasting impression on their audience.  This event was also the first time our Aluminum Frame set which will be previewed in our next blog post.  
In the first week of June we held an event in historic Union Station just blocks away from the White House in our nation's capital.   As you can see, the beauty of the venue made our job extremely easy from a scenic standpoint.

Union Station, Washington D.C.

We also had the opportunity to bring in one of our favorite bands, Big Shot. We absolutely love working with these guys and would recommend them to any of our clients. 

Big Shot performs in Union Station

Big Shot

President’s Conference
In July we headed to San Francisco for an event in Davies Symphony Hall.  This had been a huge technical undertaking and took many months of collaboration between our staff, the venue and the headline artist, Carrie Underwood.  Jim Jacobs, Davies Symphony Hall Technical Director, who has been with the venue for over 20 years said our event was by far the biggest production the symphony hall has seen to date.

Stage for the San Francisco Symphony Hall
Bow & Arrow Producer Mike Mars with headliner Carrie Underwood
Set pieces on the San Francisco Stage

SGA worked with our team to develop custom stairs for the client's recognition ceremony.  This is the second time we've had the chance to work with Corey Ploetz of SGA.  Corey will be highlighted in our next edition of the Quiver, our Bow & Arrow Newsletter.  

SGA's build of the stage. 


Our staff can't thank our clients enough for giving us the opportunity to work in these beautiful venues and the chance to travel across the country.  Of course, our vendors continue to be exceptional extensions of the Bow & Arrow staff and we cannot thank them enough for their support.  We look forward to an exciting fall and winter events season and some new materials to further help our clients with their events.  

This summer has also been an opportunity for us to use utilize some new scenic pieces.  In the photos below you will get a glimpse of these new pieces which are all designed to fit in many different venues.  We now have three new scenic looks that can be mixed and matched to create different combinations and figurations to fit many different venues.  We're extremely excited about presenting these pieces to our clients and discovering new and innovative ways to communicate their message.

Check the summer edition of our news letter for more on some of our exciting new sets!

Monday, August 15

Tragedy at Indiana State Fair

After seeing the shocking video from the Indiana State fair this past weekend we want to extend our deepest sympathy to the family members of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident and wish a speedy recovery to those injured.  

One of our close vendors spends their summers working state fair shows throughout the midwest and has  used structures identical to the one that failed in Indiana.  He responded to the accident by saying, "We have always been criticized for being overly cautious in situations like these so we can only hope this is a wake up call to those in the industry who don't understand how quickly things can go wrong."
Bow & Arrow show with outdoor stage in Maui
Over the past few years we have used similar stages in multiple climates and weather patterns.  As I watched this footage last night I couldn't help but think about what I would do if we would have been responsible for this type of incident.  This only reinforces the statement above, you can never be too cautious and reminds us that equipment can become dangerous wether it's a speaker on a stand or an outdoor stage.

For those of you who haven't seen the footage, below is a video uploaded from Youtube.  Again, our deepest condolences from the entire Bow & Arrow staff goes out to those involved.  

- Chris Mars

Monday, June 6

Working Backwards

It's been a busy couple weeks and we're gearing up for another great event in Washington D.C.  Part of my preparation process is reflecting on the challenges our team has encountered in the past month and evaluating our performance.  This post will highlight our approach of "working backwards," allowing us to better serve our clients in all areas of business.

Chairman's Conference,  Maui
Many people, in almost every industry, get stuck focusing on the little details of a project. This keeps them from seeing the big picture and ultimately, hinders creativity.  As a rule of thumb, our staff starts with the 5,000 ft approach and drills out the little details as the project progresses.

By doing this, our staff avoids a monotonous routine, and instead are able to think outside the box when facing even the simplest challenge.  Doing this while keeping the client's goals in mind allows us to keep and open, creative mindset to provide a superior service.

Load-in at Diamond Cross Ranch
As a plan begins to develop and take shape we allow ourselves to be driven by communication. Letting our client's message drive our focus allows us to take a unique approach to the way we run a show, and ultimately our business.  The creative material we develop, the staging we build and the gear we buy are all driven by the needs of our clients and the direction of their business.

Being a smaller, boutique company who deals with large corporations means we must focus on how we can best serve our clients, yet continue to stay cutting edge. This may not mean buying the latest and greatest gear, but instead buying the necessary tools to deliver the message.

The result is a tailored and extremely unique product for our clients to take their events to the next level.  We've essentially avoided the "fat" of the business world all together to provide lean, more focused and extremely competitive service.

Over the last few months we've worked on the beaches of Maui, a beautiful horse ranch in the Teton Mountains and a major conference center in Orlando. Our ability to stay extremely flexible has proven to be a key to our success as we look forward to another great event in Washington D.C. this weekend.

-Chris Mars