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Article published 15/10/2020

Navigating the unknown: innovation and good practice in our strange new world

In these incredibly hard times for the events sector, there’s strength in our diversity across Scotland and we’re trying to capitalise on that in the work of a Scotland-wide Events Innovation and Good Practice working group.

The Event Industry Advisory Group pulled together this group to pool our knowledge of how events and festivals across the spectrum and across Scotland, UK and the world are adapting to the extraordinary pressures of the pandemic – and to share these learnings with our events community through EventScotland’s digital channels and webinars.

Our 12 members cover sporting, cultural, business and leisure events from the Highlands to the Central Belt, as well as representing event suppliers, local authorities, universities and national agencies.

With work elsewhere focusing on funding and public health issues, we decided to focus on sharing examples of how organisers are adapting and innovating in event programmes and formats, where we can benefit from relevant learning across the sector.   EventScotland have been signposting examples that group members come up with on their social channels, e-news and website – and we are now launching our first two webinars in October and November.

We have homed in on physical and hybrid event formats as we found many digital examples being talked about, but understandably fewer examples of how people have managed to restart in the real world.  We’re painfully aware that even where they have, most events are on a pilot basis and would not be commercially viable longer term.  That’s one of the key points we make constantly as we work towards providing the assurance that public authorities and audiences need for gatherings to come back with minimum restrictions.  But in the meantime, we hope that hearing about these experiences and sharing resources could help the rest of us prepare for a brighter future.

The first in a webinar series kicks off on Friday 30 October, 10:00-11:00, when we look forward to hearing about how two major pilot events in the world of Scottish golf and rugby were realised. Join Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships for The R&A and Dominic McKay, Chief Operating Officer for Scottish Rugby in conversation with Lyndsey Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.  You can find further details about the webinar and how to register your place here.

And in a second webinar in November we will hear from Edinburgh Fringe legends Gilded Balloon and London’s Greenwich and Docklands International Festival on being among the early few to stage hybrid and physical festival events during the restrictions.  We also hope to include an example of a London-based sporting event and a festival event from one of our global partner cities who work with different parameters - so watch this space for more news as our second session comes together.

Despite everyone’s determination and ingenuity, we know there are many grave threats across our industry as the Covid-19 crisis continues, but we hope this is one of the ways we can come together to support each other and plan for better times.  Here’s to the day we can bring people together again, and for now - hope to see you in cyberspace.

Julia Amour, Director, Festivals Edinburgh