What will take Centre Stage in 2021?
Are you an event organiser, do you run an event management company or are you part of a local voluntary festival committee? Like everyone in the events and live entertainment industry, are you at a loss as to how you can sustain your events and maintain some level of engagement and activity?
2020 was a year like no other and, a bit like an earthquake, we will feel the aftershocks across all of society for many years to come. Probably no more so than by the events sector - a sector which has been decimated. Between enforced restrictions, lack of Government guidelines or guidelines that were open to interpretation, and then even further restrictions , the events industry was turned on its head.
2020 was a year like no other and, a bit like an earthquake, we will feel the aftershocks across all of society for many years to come. Probably no more so than by the events sector - a sector which has been decimated. Between enforced restrictions, lack of Government guidelines or guidelines that were open to interpretation, and then even further restrictions , the events industry was turned on its head
It is now more clear than ever before, just how important the live events sector is to our overall wellbeing. But what does 2021 hold for us - for an industry that had been taken for granted for so long but is now so badly missed?
When summer was cancelled last year , along our break away in the sun or in Galway or Donegal, we also lost our beloved festival season. There was no scramble for tickets for the hottest gig in town, but instead we were treated to performances from empty venues like Croke Park or an eerily beautiful but empty Olympia Theatre. Live streaming took centre stage in 2020.
With the public and industry eagerly anticipating a return to live performance, work continues in earnest to schedule events under whatever restrictions might be in place. However, the longer the pandemic continues, the harder it gets for festivals and event organisers to sustain hope of a ‘return to normal’ in 2021. Already it has been confirmed that the St.Patrick’s Day Festival as we know and love it, will fall victim to COVID 19 once more.
Despite these trials, we have seen the sector continue to show its diversity and tenacity, as it strives and fights to survive these most challenging times. At this stage we are all craving the buzz of a live event but at the same time, we are well aware of the need to wait it out a little longer.
Pivot – reinvent – realign – reimagine – improvise…
With the guts of a year behind us, (as incredible as that sounds), we are slowly accepting that life will be lived a little differently for quite some time. As we know, we won’t have our traditional St Patricks weekend celebrations, but festival teams across the country will produce programmes rich in visual spectacles and a host of online projects. They won’t be kept down. The St.Patrick’s Day Festival team has ‘pivoted’. The 2021 Festival will happen ,albeit differently. It will happen online with ‘Six Great Virtual Days & Nights’ running from March 12th to 17th inclusive. I for one, commend their tenacity and drive and I personally can’t wait to join in the festivities.
I would imagine, 2021 will continue much in the same vein as 2020. We will continue to see a host of online streamed events until late summer, followed by a phased return for events with hybrid models bringing digital and live elements together until we ‘return to normal’ in 2022 or 2023.
Thermal Scanners, interactive wristbands and rapid testing are all being considered to enable the sector to fulfill the 2021 season. In the UK, suggestions of a government backed insurance scheme might just give a glimmer of hope in the late summer. For Ireland, I don’t envisage the government providing this support, nor do I see cancellation insurance being available to cover a worldwide pandemic. If, there is an insurer willing to provide such cover, it’s likely to be a commodity that just isn’t affordable to the events sector.
The sector must continue to lobby Government for supports for the many, many, musicians, performers, crew, infrastructure providers, event management companies and the countless others which have been affected by this crisis.
For now, until our path forward is clear and we can enjoy live events once more, as a community of entertainment consumers, we need to support this industry and continue to immerse ourselves in the amazing online content that it continues to produce for our entertainment, virtually, as it may be.
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