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Times they are a-changing. AFO’s Steve Heap, talks

There was a time when the events industry stood on its own two feet; just sell a few tickets, pay the bills and all was well. I think that may well be in the dim and distant past.

Now most of us need grant funding or sponsors and certainly a lot of ticket sales. The days of relatively low budget equipment for your site and artists for your stage are well and truly over. I’m not saying we don’t get value for money, we certainly do in equipment terms – although I do have some doubts as to which planet some of the artists, managers and agents are on when assessing their true value. But that’s another story.

To work out the true value of the events industry, everybody and their mother seems to be undertaking research. This includes the recently launched DCMS Select Committee Enquiry, the Events Industry Forum has just commissioned some research from Bournemouth University and the AFO is constantly seeking out statistics. The AIF are doing the same, and just about every government department seems to want to know what effect Brexit will have on their slice of the UK economy.

So, over the next few months watch out for an awful lot of questionnaires and people knocking on your office door to interview you. However it is worth it if done professionally, and more importantly if it delivers properly tested results that can be used to support the good work our industry does.

Did I already mention Brexit? Is that a word you are trying to avoid using? I suggest that you shout it loudly from the rooftops – whether you voted to stay or leave it is the current hot potato of every industry. But how will it affect the events industry? Already equipment suppliers are concerned about the 2018 season, never mind 2019 and beyond when a lot of their low budget staff disappear back to Europe in fear of the tightening of people movement.

Then we have got the issue of how top quality UK artists will get across the channel after 2019 – needing the old carnet, having to handle border guards, taxes, work permits and VAT. Back in the 60s and 70s those of us who did it will remember the miles of paperwork and the complications we had, all this could well return after Brexit. We may get lucky, we may not, the country could even change its mind, who knows?

Wherever we are in March 2019 it will affect the events industry, so do keep talking about it. Don’t let Brexit just be a word that scares you. These issues should not be allowed to creep up and surprise you, they are here now, and we know what’s going to happen. Do something about it and prepare for it, or don’t – the choice is still yours.

Steve Heap: 22nd Mar 2018 10:52:00

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