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Academics and Industry join forces to create a state of the nation white paper for the Events Industry

Date 10.11.2020

Academics from the University of Northampton have joined forces with leaders from the events industry in the East Midlands, in a white paper, entitled, A Brave New World: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Events Sector and Higher Education.

Now well into our second national lockdown, the white paper authors, Claire Eason-Bassett, Senior Lecturer Events Management and Ivna Reic, Head of Subject Events, Tourism & Hospitality, highlight the devastating immediate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Events industry.

As one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, the UK events sector has seen a reported loss of 126,000 jobs, with over a third of businesses in the sector reporting losses of £1m to £5m. Events businesses are anticipating that a further 38% of employees who are currently on furlough will also be made redundant at the end of the scheme.

Just as the industry had begun to navigate business as ‘new’ normal, the changing nature of the pandemic, and a second lockdown, has the potential to wipe out a lucrative, pre-Christmas period. In the white paper, the authors and industry leaders explore the potential recovery plans, as well as praising the way events professionals have adapted to these uncertainties.

Ivna Reic, Head of Subject Events, said: “Now, almost nine months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we present this white paper which highlights the changing nature of both the events sector, it’s precarious future, and the implications of this for our events degree programme.

“What is clear is the need for resilience, innovation and agility in the sector. The role of the events professional will become even more multi-dimensional with the rise of events which seamlessly blend the virtual and in person experience.

“Our graduates need to be polymaths with multiple high-level capabilities that will enable them to add value to their employers, enable them to start and lead successful organisations, and will challenge them to continue their learning and development throughout their careers. We have already reshaped our teaching at the University of Northampton to cultivate theses skills in our student cohorts to get them ready for industry.

The white paper, which was written with the support of the events industry in the East Midlands, through the University’s Events Industry Forum, calls for support and funding to cultivate the creative and innovative responses to enable the industry to keep going, safely through national lockdowns and health and safety restrictions created by the pandemic.

Claire Eason-Bassett commented: “Right now is a period of unprecedented seismic change for the events sector. None of us know what is coming next and it is incredibly challenging to navigate for academics and professionals working in the sector.  We recognise that this means our teaching and learning activity needs to adapt so that our students are prepared and suitably skilled to be able to thrive in this new environment.

“We wrote this paper to draw together the plethora of conversations and issues that came through the discussions of the UON Events Industry Forum and to clarify how we could take that into our live and virtual classrooms.”

“Our students will graduate into a sector that is reforming itself, finding new ways to navigate and manage the risks and their creativity and capacity for capturing opportunities will enable them to play their part in re-building our business events, sports and cultural sectors.”

Download a copy of the white paper, A Brave New World: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Events Sector and Higher Education.