If one thing is for sure, the events of 2020 have reshaped the world as we know it. Almost every single industry and business sector has been impacted in one way or another by the outbreak of COVID-19. Before the virus entered our lives, the global events industry size was set to increase from its $1.1 billion valuation in 2018, to scale the heady heights of $2.33 billion by 2026.
However, that all looks set to change with mass cancellations across the board, and the UK, in particular, has lost a whole summer festival season. But it's not all quite doom and gloom. After some uncertainty, there are signs of life within the events industry as we all take the first steps on the 'comeback trail.'
So before, we take a look at how COVID-19 might change the events industry moving forward, let's first assess its impact as things stand.
How COVID-19 Has Affected the Events Industry
The impact the coronavirus has had on the economy as a whole has already been well-documented. But since events are designed to gather people together, the fallout from shutting down events venues has been much starker than perhaps in other similar industries. Even as we approach 2021, thousands of corporate events, exhibitions, trade shows, and music festivals remain indefinitely postponed. Many have been cancelled altogether, with a re-run next year still up in the air.
According to recent estimates, the events industry is a significant contributor to the UK economy. To put some figures to the segments that make up the industry, arts and cultural events account for £5.6 billion, festivals, fairs and shows produce £6.0 billion, Music events rake in £17.6 billion, and sporting events add a further £9.6 billion. Of the million-plus jobs that depend on a thriving events industry, up to 600,000 could be lost without further support from the government.
For corporate events, exhibitions, trade shows, fashion shows, and all types of other indoor events, the primary response was to go virtual. According to a recent survey conducted by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), seven out of ten events offered a virtual alternative. However, when it came to the physical events themselves, 87% of event organisers surveyed cancelled, and two-thirds postponed until further notice.
However, outdoor events, it seems, are providing the chink of light the industry has been desperately looking for. Regardless of which subsector we operate in, it's pretty fair to say we are a resilient bunch in the events space, and none of us (including Outdoor Stages) have been sitting idly on the sidelines waiting for the normality to be restored. Instead, everyone has been pulling together and working hard to create events that are suitable and safe for the new situation in which we find ourselves.
The so-called 'comeback tail' for the events industry started with a series of outdoor concerts hosted by Sam Fender in Gosforth Park, Newcastle. Since then, several outdoor socially-distanced music festivals have sprung up. Now, heading into the autumn, there are plenty of outdoor events scheduled that meet the government-mandated guidelines surrounding COVID-19.
Therefore, the critical trend shaping the short-term future of the industry, which we'll now explore in a little more detail, is that events are going outdoors.
COVID-19 Moves Entire Events Industry Outdoors
While the science surrounding COVID-19 is still in its infancy, a common understanding amongst scientists so far is that it's much safer to be outdoors than it is to be inside in a confined or poorly ventilated space. This understanding, which has shaped much of the UK government's regulations regarding social interaction, is providing the driving force behind moving traditionally-indoor events, outdoors.
The regulations that venues must meet in order to be considered COVID-secure are far easier to satisfy outdoors than they are indoors. So for the remainder of 2020 and beyond, don't be surprised to see the trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and product launches moving outdoors to facilitate social distancing, one-way systems, and other critical facets of a COVID-secure event.
While many event businesses have tried to pursue the virtual option, it's not being viewed within the industry as the answer moving forward. Both people and business value face-to-face connection over online events. While software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have helped many of us navigate our way through the pandemic, event attendees feel they are not conducive to building meaningful relationships, developing new business, or feeling immersed in live performances.
The answer, therefore, lies in bringing events back, but not as we've known them before. Many will make the shift to outdoor environments, or to spaces whereby there is a lot more flexibility to create a safe distance between those in attendance. For instance, marquees are set to play an essential role in bringing events back, given their perfect blend of outdoor protection from the virus, but shelter from the infamous British weather.
Given that this is the case, many of you may need to turn your focus to what you might need to make your outdoor event a success. For many of you, outdoor stage hire will be an essential component.
Hire a Covered Stage for Your Revamped Events
No matter whether you are hosting a socially-distanced music festival, or an outdoor trade show, it's likely that an outdoor stage will be a crucial component of your redesigned event. For live performances and music acts in particular, the stage is the cornerstone of any successful event. It focuses the attention of your attendees, provides an elevated platform for your performers, and it houses of all the technical production equipment required for artists to look and sound their best.
But their uses go far beyond live performers. Stages are also perfect for community events, fun runs, Christmas light switch on events, and the list goes on. Moving forward, they could provide the focal point for your product launch or keynote speakers at your industry conference.
Here at Outdoor Stages, we have a wide range of festival stage hire packages that could provide exactly what you're looking for concerning your event. Even our smallest 6m x 4m stage hire package can offer a perfect focus for smaller-scale events where you might only invite 200 to 250 socially-distanced guests, such as local networking events or industry meetings.
At the other end of the scale, we have large stages available for hire that can support even the most expansive of socially-distanced music festivals. With self-climbing ARC roof system that has a max roof height of 6.5m and a roof payload of 3500kg, you've got more than enough capacity for even the most extensive of production rider requests made by artists and performers. Given there are yet to be any live events that have hosted more than a couple of thousand guests, this outdoor stage hire package would be more than ample for your audience.
Speaking of rider requests, you're not likely to solely book outdoor stage hire for your event. You'll need all of the associated technical production equipment such as sound equipment and lighting fixtures, not to mention hiring experienced sound engineers and lighting technicians to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day/evening of your event.
Fortunately, here at Outdoor Stages, we can provide all of that too!
Equipment and Production Services for Your COVID-Secure Event
As mentioned, you won't make much progress on your event merely hiring the stage structure on its own. Here at Outdoor Stages, we understand that fact better than most, which is why we provide all manner of accompanying audio visual (AV) equipment as part of our stage packages.
No matter the size or scale of your event, we can provide what you are looking for in terms of PA systems, mixing desks, amplifiers, stage monitors, lighting fixtures and associated trusses, special effects, and LED screens to name a few. We aren't talking about run-of-the-mill equipment either. We are talking about top-of-the-range LED technology when it comes to our lights, and industry-leading brands such as Shure, Midas and d&b audiotechnik when it comes to sound.
The best part? We own all of our equipment. Nothing is 'subbed' in with no idea of its provenance or usage history. We painstakingly service and maintain our enormous range of event production equipment to ensure it remains the best around, rotating out any inventory that's older than three years.
As if that wasn't all-encompassing enough, on top of our high-quality sound and lighting equipment, we offer some of the best in business when it comes to installation and subsequent event production. Our teams have worked in industry-leading venues such as the 02 in London, and they're more than comfortable working under the pressure of a high-stakes event.
Speaking of which, it's worth mentioning that's we've updated the way in which our stage assembly, sound engineers, and lighting technicians work when on-site in order to ensure your site remains COVID-secure.
Changes to Outdoor Events Operations After COVID-19
While it goes without saying that protocols need to in place for your event attendees, our commitment to safety will help to ensure that there are no serious health and safety breaches in either in the run-up to or during your outdoor event.
First of all, in reference to outdoor stage hire, our teams have developed a method of setting up the stage that facilitates social-distancing requirements. With our systems in place, we can guarantee that all of your performers and technical crew will all maintain at least a metre distance from each other, in line with government guidelines.
We've also created protocols for all types of scenarios, such as instrument and performer/set changeovers. Our crew are equipped with all of the necessary PPE, including masks and gloves. They're also well-versed in working within our new set of in-house rules concerning operating within stage-building, setting up sound equipment, and rigging lighting. In fact, we have already supplied and delivered several outdoor events under these new COVID-secure guidelines, including a few live music concerts on the South Coast.
By choosing Outdoor Stages, you can rest assured that our services will not only comply with government regulations but will go above and beyond to ensure maximum safety for both your staff members and attendees.
COVID-19 Has Altered the Events Industry Landscape – But it's Going Nowhere!
There's no doubt that the outbreak of the coronavirus has a devastating initial impact on the events industry. However, slowly but surely, organisers along with companies such as ourselves have been working to find solutions for attendees desperate for live music, theatrical performances, or face-to-face business interactions.
We're glad to report that we've made some pretty extensive strides in this department, and we've already been a part of many successful and ground-breaking socially-distanced outdoor events. But while we are up and running within the realms of the 'new normal,' there's still a long way to go.
Our attention is now turning toward helping events businesses who may not have traditionally required outdoor stage hire to run their events. So if you would like help with planning and designing an outdoor event for which you will need to hire a covered stage, don't hesitate to give us a call for a chat about your vision. We'll be more than happy to help you get your event back on its feet!