Following the announcement from a ‘mainstream organiser’ that an event planned to run in the next month has been cancelled – under the guise of ‘COVID concerns’ – I feel we should all be angry. This decision, based on no actual health requirement not to proceed, completely undermines the fight that many of us have taken on over the past few years. As an industry we have maintained that our biggest issue at present is confidence.
Many in the industry have risked a real hit to revenue by proceeding and pushing the message that events are back, and that they are successful – which they really have been, across the board and beyond the expectation of most. It’s an investment in the industry as a whole, from which we all benefit in the long-term.
Decisions like this completely undermine the confidence of the broader market – and based on what? I believe it’s a selfish decision, and I suspect has been made, not based on any real COVID concerns, but more likely based on a lack of exhibitor bookings.
We have just completed the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair – arguably in Australia’s most COVID impacted State – with a demographic that sits above an average age of 50 years old, a demographic more aware and concerned about the impact on health from covid. Yes there have been challenges, we lost some exhibitors who caught COVID on transit to set up, and the crowd are largely masked as per the recommendations. It’s not fun dealing with these issues, and it takes a sense of humour from the venue and stand-builders to help hide as many gaps as possible – but the show goes on.
The attendance has EXCEEDED PROJECTIONS and on Friday we hit our capacity within the halls. MCEC has had to add more seating to cope with the catering demand (this is a positive – not negative). Exhibitors are experiencing one of their best events in a decade.
To be clear – I’m not sharing our success to highlight how good we are. Events have been massively successful all year, in a range of sectors and from a number of organisers. What I am highlighting is that to say events shouldn’t go ahead due to COVID isn’t just an excuse – it’s hugely misleading and damaging to the industry and the confidence we have rebuilt after the last two years – and in my view that’s completely unacceptable. The selfishness in doing this impacts people’s lives, their teams and their families, and it shouldn’t be accepted.
If the industry starts using COVID as an excuse for their own incompetence, when the States have not changed the health orders regarding how we operate, it becomes a slippery slope and puts us back years AGAIN.
In my view we need to hold our nerve, follow the health orders and back each other in every positive way possible to make shows happen and not throw the industry under the bus, surely we collectively are better than this.