Conference News September 2020 - Page 10

10 Digest COLOURS OF CHANGE Michael Hirst OBE, chair of the Events Industry Board, outlines the important role of the events industry in the coming months irst it was blue, celebrating the heroism of the NHS and, hopefully, also recognising the contributions made by venues and event contractors in constructing the Nightingale Hospitals. Then it was red, as event production teams lit up buildings to highlight the desperate the plight of businesses and freelancers having their livelihoods shut down. Next, it is green as the Industry gets the go ahead to reopen from 1 October, subject to the outcomes of pilots and infection levels remaining under control. But what will colour the speed of recovery and ongoing health of the events industry will be the measures and approach taken during what could be a prolonged period of building back business and public confidence. These need to be a bold and ambitious. The Events Industry Board has been consulting on proposals to ensure the UK retains and enhances its competitiveness as the recovery gathers pace. Part of this must be immediate support to sustain businesses and people who work in the industry, until real momentum is achieved. If the cultural sector can receive a £1.57bn package, surely the £70bn events industry, which delivers so much tangible benefit to the economy, can claim a comparable one, too. Despite many of the existing support programmes ending this autumn, there is growing pressure for more targeted help to those industries which will still be challenged to trade viably for some time yet. We also need to take into consideration what other countries are doing and, as the industry opens up, look to take an equivalent or even better approach to ensure the UK’s competitive position. Part of any package should help the inevitable pivoting of many event companies and their