£84billion on ice: What’s next for the events industry?

Date 1.10.2020

Almost overnight, the Events industry came to a halt, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving millions of highly skilled people waiting (im)patiently for news of their futures.  In this blog, Claire Eason-Bassett, Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Northampton, takes a look at what comes next for the events industry.

At the start of 2020, millions of specialists were gearing up for a year the events industry would not forget. Events Managers were planning celebrations to mark the Japanese Olympics and VE day, the usual conferences and trade fairs that drive innovation, business and politics. The much-loved events of our British social calendar – the school fetes, music festivals, exhibitions, performances, and more were pencilled in the diary and the promise of a sunny summer had events managers excited. That abruptly stopped. Even our wedding season was, temporarily, wiped from the booking diary.

Events, of all shapes and sizes, are an essential part of our society, our culture and more importantly, contributes £84billion to our economy.

Since mid-March 2020, the events industry has been in a holding pattern, adapting to ever changing restrictions on what events can and can’t take place, desperately awaiting the much-needed clarity or a green light to get back to business. Now, at the start of October, when festive events normally begin to launch, the situation is no clearer.

Events professionals are, by nature, a creative bunch, and have adapted and diversified their business, as far as possible. This is a fantastic testament to the nature of our industry. Although, for some though, they’re still not able to operate at all. This fact, coupled with impact of scaling back of the events, has resulted in a huge knock on impact to the events supply chain too.

The events industry at largely accepts it can’t run events in the same way as before, and we support the restrictions to keep us safe. But with little in the way of support on offer from Government, without swift action, the industry is going to struggle. What the industry does need is support, clarity and structure. We need help to keep businesses operating.  We need help to get audiences back for indoor and outdoor events.  We need help to cover the costs of being Covid secure.

The events sector is packed full of professional, responsible, creative and strategic people who want to get on with their jobs and create extraordinarily positive impacts on our society and economy through live events.

The staff and students at the University of Northampton join our voices to those of our industry colleagues to ask for economic support for our events sector.

At Northampton, Events Management students are in prime position to take advantage of the renaissance of our sector.  The new academic year began this week, we’re blending face-to face and online teaching and learning for our students, minimising the impact coronavirus has on their education. We’re focusing on honing their skills, and developing new talents to enable them to thrive in the complex and dynamic environment that is the UK events sector.  We are looking forward to supporting them in developing their capacities for adapting to change and for innovation. We want them to have a thriving events sector, ready to welcome them after they graduate, where their skills are in demand, and they have a diverse range of graduate jobs, where they can make a positive impact.