Trevor Connell was an invited guest at the ICC Showcase Dinner
Last week the ICC Sydney hosted a special test event – a showcase dinner for 800 people including PCOs, Event Producers, Media and other stakeholders
The idea according to CEO Geoff Donaghy was to test the kitchen and staffing capabilities for the first time along with AV and other facilities.
“Humans are being used in the testing of this venue” Donaghy told the audience.
ICC Sydney have partnered with TAFE to train hospitality staff so we were served by a combination of experienced supervisors and trainee waitstaff – they provided a flawless service.
In 1983 when the Sydney Entertainment Centre was preparing to open the operators needed a test event (particularly for the acoustics) for that venue and partnered with the NSW Education Dept to bring in thousands of schoolkids for what then turned into the annual NSW Schools Spectacular. Mary Lopez produced those events for over two decades and was in the audience last night to see her protégé John Foreman accompany one of the latest products of the Schools Talent Development program – Anja Nissen.
Nissen, who apparently has already been doing some TV work, was not backward in promoting herself for corporate events to myself when I had a chat with her (and good on her).
Nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan was on stage to chat to Executive Chef Tony Panetta about the Centre’s slogan “Feeding Your Performance”. Interesting to note that the Centre has the buying power to sidestep the markets and go direct to growers for a lot of the produce that they need.
William Wilson was the sommelier for the SCEC during its latter years and he returns to the ICC to ensure the Centre has a wine cellar to meet the most discerning palates. 80% of those wines are sourced from NSW and at this dinner we enjoyed … well just scroll down to see the menu.
The evening was light on with speeches and limited entertainment leaving guests to focus on the food and beverages and of course, networking.
So how does the venue shape up? Well first of all the architects have some adjustments to make. The taxi set down area is not fully covered. There is about a two metre gap between two of the roof sections, which meant umbrellas to protect guests alighting from cabs in the typical November Sydney storm that accompanied us to this event.
That storm also meant that it took me 45 mins to get from North Sydney to the ICC as Sydney’s traffic continues to clog up.
Obviously the quickest access to the ICC will be by water taxi.
The foyer areas are spacious with views back across Darling Harbour and there were plenty of pleasant, helpful staff to assist.
The new ballroom is impressive. The carpet is not loo loud; the ceiling is busy but not distracting. The surrounding walls are suitable for projection, so no dangling screens. Unfortunately the video cameras were not colour balanced so it was obvious when switching from one camera to another as the colour changed – that should have been picked up but it is easily remedied.
The stage and drapes were a disappointment. They just looked like rental stock. Such a pity that a bespoke mobile stage was not ordered and surely it is time to move on from plain black drapes.
The sound was excellent, the entertainment and the speakers could be heard quite clearly. And the lighting was what should be expected – some razzmatazz for the performances and then lighting the subject during speeches.
So I’m a bit picky on some things, but hey that is what test events are for, but the overall experience is quite pleasant and I’m looking forward to many more events in this venue.