Following yesterday's report on the economic impact of the current government, C&IT investigates what the Tories have done specicially for the events industry.
New events board
One of the key criticisms of previous governments has been their lack of understanding of and support for the events industry.
Dale Parmenter, CEO of agency DRP, believes that after a turbulent few years, the future is looking up. "I think of all the governments we've had, this is the first one to really wake up and say 'yes, events are important'," he explains. "The implementation of an events board in government (launched at the end of last year and chaired by former MP Nick de Bois) gives our industry a real voice. However, we still need more representation in government - it needs to be taken even more seriously."
But change won't happen overnight, according to Michael Hirst, OBE, chair of the Business Visits & Events partnership and deputy chair of the first UK Events Industry Board (EIB). However, he does believe the board is helping to create a 'pipeline for future growth'. "In many sectors government is not 'joined up' despite the fact that policies can overlap. This board gives the events industry a voice, to make sure we're being heard when policy is being made," he explains.
All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events
Alongside the newly established events board, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events, chaired by Conservative MP for Wells James Heappey, is also helping to put the events industry in the spotlight. "Our primary function is to act as an advocacy group," he explains. "One of our key roles is to make sure the new events board does what's expected of it. We also need to cut through red tape and lobby for new ways to encourage events into the UK." He adds that as well as attracting events to London, he is keen to strengthen the credibility of other regions. Another key role for Heappey has been to contribute to political debates within the industry's such as the Meeting Industry Association's EU debate last night (24 May), where he discussed the key issues facing the sector.
It's a statement supported by VisitBritain, following the launch of the Events are Great Britain campaign in April. It is part of the wider £60m Great campaign to promote the UK. Acting as the umbrella brand, it will be working to drive more international business to Britain.
But Stephen Morton-Prior of Clearwater Events describes the initiative as 'corporate spin' and admits he can't see what is actually changing. "I've not seen any major developments - I'm just not sure what this actually means for the industry? How much of the budget will really be going to develop events?"
Overall, the events industry seems positive about the current government's long-term plans to improve the UK economy and put events on the map. But with global economic concerns and the Brexit referendum to contend with, it might not be the smoothest ride to success.
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