AEV director Rachel Parker, with the help of member venues, continues to push the agenda to government and support learning through AEV’s own initiatives.
We don’t know when it will be, and we don’t know how it will happen, but the whole event industry will need to be quick out of the gate when the Covid-19 restrictions are finally relaxed enough to allow events, exhibitions and conferences to resume in the UK.
To call this a challenge is a breathtaking understatement, given the current situation and the lack of any clear milestones on the way towards the eventual lifting of restrictions. The establishment of the new norms we are all going to have to adopt is a long way off.
But it is obvious to everyone that this necessary moratorium on mass gatherings will be amongst the last to be lifted, which puts the event industry in an even more difficult position – having to catch up with a fragile economy that will be badly in need of confident consumers.
It’s gut-wrenching to see this trail of economic devastation spread, and frustrating to have to stand by and seemingly watch it all unfold. However, there is much to do between now and the time when we can hold events again, and the pressure is on for the AEV, ESSA and the AEO to make sure that our members are primed and ready.
Together, the associations continue to lobby government departments for specific interventions on behalf of the event industry, including the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government. We have advocated on the need for business rates relief for exhibition & conference centres, and asked the Department for Culture Media and Sport for the inclusion of the event industry in the ‘leisure, tourism and hospitality’ support package planned by the government.
A number of our members will continue to have meetings with the Minister for Tourism, to express our position and contribute to government planning. We are stressing at every opportunity that clarity and inclusion of the event industry on any relief packages, whether they are event industry-specific, or under the leisure, tourism & hospitality umbrella, is critical. Above all, we want to seek clarity and guidance on when mass gatherings will be allowed to run again.
Staying in communication and supporting member engagement with working groups, the board, the EIA, and individual members has become the focus of our internal activities now.
We pulled together a virtual EIA Board meeting for each association to share how their members were being affected and to start the discussions on how we will continue to work together to get the events back up and running. Our working groups have switched to virtual meetings too.
Through the working groups, board meetings, cross-association groups and member contacts, we are looking forward to what venues and the industry will need to do when mass gatherings are once again permitted. There will be new cleaning regimes, catering specifications, and exhibition layout considerations needed, to pick just three examples. Our newly created AEV Events Reopen Ops Group will be looking into all these areas, together with organisers and suppliers, to produce guidance and advice for the industry.
We accept the reality of many months of social distancing measures in some form, and we will work with the government and its agencies to bring about the return of live events and gatherings as soon and as safely as possible. We will continue to make our voices heard at the highest level in our efforts to protect and ensure the future of the UK event industry, as the future of many others will depend on it.