WINTER 21 / 11 | FEATURE
Live venue will be the first arena in the UK to be solely powered by electricity , meanwhile venues such as the SSE Arena Wembley Arena and OVO Hydro are partnering with their energy supplier naming rights sponsors on environmental solutions .
Debbie McWilliams is director of live entertainment at the Scottish Event Campus , the home of the OVO Hydro , which played host to Cop26 . In October , SEC signed a sponsorship deal with OVO Energy for the venue that involves a raft of environmental commitments and initiatives including a sustainable food strategy .
Says McWilliams , “ OVO launched with the aim of making energy cheaper , greener , and simpler and has used a range of imaginative and innovative measures to do this , such as offering 100 % renewable electricity as standard and planting one carbon-fighting tree for every customer , every year . We are working towards achieving Greener Arena Certification through A Greener Festival , which will show that carbon reduction and transition strategies are at the heart of our operations . OVO will support us in that process .”
At Wembley , John Langford says that this month will see red meat removed from menus in the venue . Other key measures include reducing the amount of single-use plastic .
“ I remember a Prodigy show we did years ago , at the end of the night there was a sea of plastic on the floor and we looked at it and thought ‘ that ’ s a good night , the bar take was really strong ’ and the evidence was everywhere but if we saw that now we would think we have failed . We ’ ve been working with Stack-Cup reusables but we ’ re also looking at other solutions .”
Secure approach Following the tragic events at Astroworld , and on a far smaller scale at The O2 last month when a group of
Wizkid fans forced their way into the building , event security has yet again been in the media spotlight .
Security has always been a huge focus for arena operators , not least since the Manchester Arena attack and subsequent inquiry , but the dearth of available trained staff is a key concern .
Following the Manchester attack the NAA established a Security Group in 2018 which has helped venues work to improve safety standards alongside police and counter terrorism agencies .
Says Noble , “ Security is obviously of paramount importance to all of us in the arenas sector , and we are constantly reviewing our policies and following the most up-to-date guidance . When the findings of the [ Manchester Arena ] inquiry are delivered next year , we intend to support and implement all the recommendations that are made .” The suggestion of a ‘ Martyn ’ s Law ’ has been led by Figen Murray , mother of Martyn Hett who was one of 22 people who died in the 2017 attack at Manchester Arena . She says the law would be a coherent and proportionate approach to security at venues of all sizes . She is hoping the inquiry will result in the recommendation that ‘ Martyn ’ s Law ’ is passed into legislation .
Kabatznick says OVG welcomes the proposals set out in Martyn ’ s Law , and all the requirements will be incorporated into security measures at Co-op Live : “ We will implement the newest security and anti-terrorism technology within our design and operation planning .”
As the arena sector continues to evolve apace it is not only safety and sustainability measures that are being enhanced , but the customer experience is also continually being assessed and improved upon .
McWilliams says measures such as the move to digital ticketing have improved the customer experience by making event entry seamless , while at the Royal Albert Hall , Noble says one of the most exciting recent innovations has been the introduction of d & b Soundscape , which will be showcased in Birmingham National Ballet ’ s production of The Nutcracker on 28-31 December .
“ It ’ s a revolutionary tool that is being used by artists including Björk that adds a whole new immersive layer to productions , providing an incredibly clear and specific degree of surround sound ,” she says .
Langford says the sector is going to see a lot of technological advances in the coming five to 10 years : “ I think there ’ s going to be significant changes that will be motivated by the move towards the metaverse , and a bigger ability to use data and bandwidth .”