Sustainable Cups

Sustainable cups - what is the best option for events?

In his monthly Green column, Chris Johnson quenches our thirst for simple answers – what's the best sustainable cup to use at an event or festival?

We live on a planet with finite resources and an expanding population. But more imminently, the current scale and nature of resource use is causing widespread pollution, mass extinction of species, and global warming – ultimately undermining the ecological systems and climate that support us.

Throw-away culture contributes to this problem. We need to fundamentally re-examine how we use resources: Use drastically fewer new materials, aim for a circular economy in which we use materials indefinitely wherever possible, or where the energy and value isn’t lost in the lifetime of materials.

Here I briefly consider the options for sustainable cups: Bio-plastics, plastic, paper and reusable cups, for cold and hot drinks.

We are now surrounded by “bio” packaging options. Are they better environmental options? Which are better than others? How can we tell? The simple answer is that none of these materials is a solution to the environmental issues, in almost all event contexts, and for a number of reasons.

Most “bio” packaging is PLA plastic (polylactic acid). Made from various plant-based sources such as corn starch or sugar cane, it's a polymer often used to substitute petroleum-based plastics like PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Crystalline PLA has low biodegradability in the natural environment and requires a high-heat, industrial facility to compost, of which there are few in the UK. In short, it is not widely recycled in the UK and is designed for disposal.

As a result, PLA cups (and other products) are generally either landfilled or incinerated – the latter resulting in a small amount of energy capture, which is minor compared to the energy input that is lost in manufacture.

There are other problems with PLA. It looks and feels like plastic. This leads to it being indistinguishable from PET and other plastics, both at events, where it can confuse eventgoers from using the correct bins and waste separation efforts on-site, and in waste processing facilities. Composting facilities cannot differentiate between bioplastics and conventional plastics. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) states in its most recent guidance that compostable plastics should be avoided where there is potential for them to contaminate conventional plastics recycling. Many events still use some plastic.

In summary, the environmental justification for using widely available “bio” materials for events is weak.

One way that companies have attempted to address challenges associated with “biodegradable” or “compostable” single-use cups and serveware is to promote “closed loop” or circular services. They are mostly based on the premise that single-use cups are captured at the event and taken by the provider to a dedicated specialist facility that can recycle them. Many providers are offering dedicated bins for their cups to improve capture, but it is often a challenge to successfully capture the majority of a specific material into one stream.

The problems with this approach are that it is perpetuating single use, the materials do not have less environmental impact than recycled PET (rPET) and are not widely recyclable in the UK. And it's causing consumer confusion, which is a real cause for concern.

Significant plastic-free campaigns in the events industry have demonstrated the appetite for making changes, and, as a result, many organisers have been looking at alternatives to single-use plastic cups.

It’s estimated that at least 100 million single-use plastic cups are used in the UK live events industry annually. So what’s the solution? Recycling? It’s better to recycle than not, but it’s not the solution. Typically, plastic cups (commonly made from PET) are recycled only up to six times, and then become waste. In practice many plastic event cups end up as landfill or incinerated in any case.

If recycling isn’t the answer, what about reusable plastic cups? Research suggests that this can be the best option. Polypropylene (PP) cups can be used more than 75 times and quickly become more environmentally beneficial compared to a single-use cup – the research is conclusive that, even taking into account the washing and transport, re-use beats single use after between three and ten uses (studies differ slightly).

Reusable cup companies, such as Green Goblet, report that the biggest change in the past year is that festivals and events are starting to purchase or rent cups with no branding on, so fewer are taken home, thus increasing re-use rates. This is encouraging, because the benefits of reusable cup initiatives are not realised if a significant percentage are taken home as merchandise or lost to waste streams.

Heineken, at the request of the Dutch Government, has recently published a comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis study of cup types, called Good Cup Bad Cup, which corroborates most previous independent assessments that have been made – that reusable cups are the best environmental option.

Paper has been touted as a solution to replacing plastic, but this is also problematic. Global forests play a unique role, supporting a stunning array of biodiversity, removing and storing carbon, providing sustenance and livelihood to indigenous peoples. The pulp and paper industry is responsible for substantial impacts to the environment, including climate change.

Paper has lower CO2 emissions per tonne but more material is required to achieve the stiffness than a plastic equivalent. In an event industry context paper cups are lined with plastic or PLA to ensure that they do not leak or degrade whilst being used, meaning that they are a mixed material, which is not recyclable or compostable.

The best environmentally sustainable option is reusable cups made from PP plastic or steel for cold drinks and reusable cups for hot drinks. Which is the best reusable hot cup is a whole other topic! If re-use is not a possibility for your next event, as an interim option choose rPET cups for cold drinks and, regrettably, it may be the only practical option to use lined paper cups for hot drinks, preferably with a specialist provider that can process them. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of bio-plastic materials – it simply isn’t a solution.

There is something larger at work in this debate about cups and packaging. In the face of the inescapable truth and public outrage about the damage of plastics and disposable culture, the industry lobbies that stand to lose from change are hard at work on marketing campaigns. Millions of pounds are being spent on promoting a culture of change through the action of individuals, in an attempt to take the focus away from industries, larger companies and the system changes that are needed. By “putting the power in consumers hands”, the responsibility for change is left with the individual.

I believe change is fundamentally the responsibility of the industries and companies who are producing and profiting from these materials.

As an industry, we can play an important and very visible role, choosing the right solutions above the marginal difference in profit for ecologically damaging options, showing leadership and demanding this of the supply chain.


Burn your bridges, says Matt Storey, partner at The White Storey

If we condone bullying behaviour, what does that make us? Matt Storey, partner at The White Storey, talks honourable behaviour and integrity.


How many times in your working life have you wanted to tell someone to go f*** themselves? We’ve all been there – experiencing every sinew and neurone screaming at us to take a stand. And yet we’ve stopped ourselves. Just in time.

For seemingly sound reasons: a continuing pay-check; an uninterrupted client contract; the prospect of promotion. Repeatedly, we grit our teeth.

But after years of taking as gospel the advice not to burn my bridges, I’ve come to believe the price of prudence isn’t always worth paying. Sometimes speaking out is the healthiest thing you can do. There are people trapped in fear all over the place, while unscrupulous bullies take what they want. Because they believe they can.

This occurs at all levels of corporate hierarchy. Years ago, working as a supplier to a £100,000 pa client, it became clear that the owners were preparing to sell the business. A hatchet man was employed to cut costs and maximise income.

Predictably, suppliers were being squeezed to the bone, but that was just the start. Thumbscrews were being applied throughout the business that included ousting some of the original senior executives. I always remember one little Hitler publicly belittling a director, who happened to be a good friend as well as one of our original client contacts.

When our own chairman heard about this, he unleashed some choice invective and told me to email everyone I knew in the client company (in order to avoid any spin) telling them we’d service all the existing business on our system but would not be accepting any future work from them.

The image of my finger hovering above the mouse and the subsequent wince as I pressed “send” has stayed with me to this day. The response was swift and explosive. And, needless to say, we never worked for them again. But we didn’t regret it. Other companies congratulated us for taking a stand and we did, in later years, work again for our client contact.

So yes, the consequences of speaking our truth are that we may one day face the choice of having to grovel or lose a contract. Or miss out on a new job, when we discover the gatekeeper is someone we insulted in the past.

It’s probably a by-product of getting older, but I’ve reached the point in life where I’ve seen it all before and I’m not prepared to sacrifice my own integrity to fuel someone else’s greed or ego.

Once I fired someone and refused to give them a reference. Why would I say their time with us had been a positive experience, when they’d been a cheating scumbag?  I’ve also left companies where I believed that wrong was being done. Whether it’s to individuals or to businesses, we should all behave honourably.

You get more satisfaction from telling the truth because you simply don’t care about those people walking around on the planet who don’t like you. Frankly, you wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.

Which is not to say it’s a decision to take lightly. The events industry is a village. Stay in it long enough and you’ll have crossed paths with, worked with or sat on a committee with an awful lot of its inhabitants. And your reputation may well reach the few you haven’t directly touched, so think about what you want to be known for.

But if we condone cheating or bullying corporate behaviours, what does that make us?

Go on: Burn a bridge – I dare you!

Business support

Coronavirus update: Business support measures outlined by Gov

The Government has issued guidance and revealed a package of business support measures for employers and businesses to minimise the impact of coronavirus.

In last week’s budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and business to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised.

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the Government covering up to 80 per cent of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities, and worth a total of £2 billion.

Finally, the Government is temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount in England to 100 per cent for 2020-21, for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates.

In addition, the decisions announced by the Bank of England on March 11 mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The coronavirus clearly poses multiple challenges for businesses, and I know from regular calls with business representatives that many are concerned about the longer-term effects on investment, cash flow and the future of their businesses.

“Supporting companies through this period is a top priority and a whole-of-government effort. The measures set out in the Budget show that this government will support business through this turbulent time and keep the economy moving. We will continue to review these measures as the impact of the virus progresses.”

 Additional resources

  • The Government’s coronavirus action plan provides detailed information about the government’s response
  • The government has put a range of support in place for those who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay, including Universal Credit and contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff
  • A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest




Nimbus Disability offers Access Card to venues for free

Nimbus Disability, the company behind the Access Card scheme for disabled customers, is now offering its card validation system completely free of charge to venues.

Nimbus launched its Access Card in 2014, meaning Deaf and disabled customers can easily and discreetly give information to providers about the sorts of needs they have.

Access requirements are verified and distilled into a number of symbols, which are then printed onto a photo ID card and used when booking tickets or when arriving at venues, meaning customers don’t have to go into depth about personal information when booking.

The card has proved popular, with around 25,000 active cardholders in the UK and beyond.

The cards work in conjunction with an online system, called the card validation system, that the venues use. This means that they can see a digital version of a customer’s Access Card, so they can quickly identify and meet their access needs. It also means that if they’re talking directly to a customer with an Access Card, the conversation can bypass talking about their needs and instead focus on finding a solution.

The card validation system had previously been chargeable, but Nimbus is now offering it completely free of charge. It takes just minutes to set up following the submission of a simple licence agreement form.

Managing director of Nimbus, Martin Austin MBE, who was recently named in the New Year Honours list for services to Accessibility in the Tourism and Entertainment Sectors, said: “I feel that this software now needs to be almost open-source – removing the financial barrier for organisations means that there’s no legitimate reason not to get involved and we will be doing our part by expanding the reach of the scheme for our members.

“By getting involved, a venue or event will find their admin costs reduced, but will also need to pause and spend five minutes thinking about how they will meet disabled customers’ needs in relation to the symbols on the card. All-in-all, services improve for disabled customers, which is what we all want in the long run.”

The card validation system is used by companies including TicketMaster, Glastonbury, KOKO and many more.

Nottingham Motorpoint Arena, one of the first box offices to start using the system, has found the tool a vital piece of the access journey for customers.

Richard Crowe, box office manager, said: “Being able to view a customer’s access needs via the Nimbus online access card system has vastly improved the booking process for many disabled visitors.

“With a few simple details, the venue can straightaway see the adjustments required and ensure the most suitable seating/tickets are booked, without the need for lengthy admin processes involving the customer having to send us proof of their requirements.”

Jonathan Brown, CEO of STAR (The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) got involved with the challenge of accessible ticketing in 2014 in response to Attitude is Everything’s State of Access Report.

He sees this latest development as substantial progress: “The Access Card is unique in providing venues and ticket sellers with crucial information that identifies the reasonable adjustments they need to make for D/deaf and disabled people and in ensuring the right tickets reach the right people.

“Making the validation system free to use for businesses is a great and timely encouragement for venues that don’t currently recognise the Access Card to come on board. I really can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t.”

The card validation system also works with ticketing systems so people can book tickets online and don’t have to rely on special helplines.

The API ticketing integration means ticketing companies and systems can link customers’ access requirements directly to their account, making it much easier and simpler to book the right tickets and have access needs met.

The initial integration of the API was undertaken by The Ticket Factory and, together, Nimbus and The Ticket Factory went on to win Attitude is Everything’s prestigious Ticketing Without Barriers Award for best Ticketing/Tech Company.

Suzanne Bull MBE is the CEO of Attitude is Everything, an organisation that improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. It works in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry.

Bull said: “It’s fantastic that the card validation system for venues is now free of charge. I’m hoping this will encourage many more venues to get involved, enabling more people with access needs to enjoy their leisure time and socialise with friends and family – which is what life is all about! And now that it’s free, there’s no excuse for not using it!”





From The Fields

From The Fields announces Mike Walsh as development director

From The Fields has announced that Mike Walsh will be joining the company as development director of its UK portfolio.

“Mike joins us at a very exciting time for the development of From The Fields,” said Ben Robinson, company director at From the Fields. “Mike’s commitment to the music scene is second to none and his incredible aptitude for discovering new music and developing brands will be well served in his new role.”

A Mercury Prize judge for the past three years, Walsh has been a respected figure in the music industry for more than two decades. His reputation for breaking emerging talent has seen him promote some of the world’s biggest artists from their first releases, and he has staged concerts for the likes of Florence and The Machine, Noel Gallagher and Mumford and Sons.

Walsh said: “I am delighted to say that I will be taking up my new position as development director at From The Fields on March 16. I have been a friend and admirer of Andy Smith and Ben Robinson since they started the company 15 years ago.

“They are, with their brilliant team of Emma Zillmann (programming director), Will Orchard (marketing director) and Dean Shakespeare (head of touring), amongst the most creative, entrepreneurial and principled people I know.

“We will be re-imagining the Off The Record new music conference, working on the further development of the already hugely successful Kendal Calling and Bluedot festivals, as well as progressing some exciting new ideas.”

The Manchester-based promoter – founded by Smith and Robinson – is the team behind the award-winning Bluedot (Best Medium Festival, UKFA 2019) and Kendal Calling, which celebrates 15 years this July. The 2020 line-ups for From the Fields’ flagship events include headline performances from Bjork, Stereophonics, Supergrass, Groove Armada and Foals, alongside cultural headliners Tim Peake, Adam Buxton and Cosmos creator Ann Druyan. From The Fields’ portfolio also includes music shows Inner City Electronic and Off The Record, plus Arts Council-supported citywide cultural events Arts By The Sea and Festival of the Sky.

Hull City of Music

Hull City of Music inspires Hull venues to join forces

Some of Hull’s biggest and most prestigious venues have joined forces to promote the area as a City of Music. Key partners have come together for the first time to promote and acknowledge the rich music culture in Hull as well as its history and its aspirations. Hull City of Music aims to encourage the experience of live music within the community through attendance, participation and education.

The group, made up of venues such as the Bonus Arena, Welly, Adelphi, Asylum, Humber Street Sesh and Hull City Hall, hopes that by joining forces the city’s live music scene will be put on the map in the same way as Manchester and Liverpool.

Hundreds of events take place every month across the city, and the group, which is working alongside Visit Hull and Hull City Council, will look to work together to promote Hull and all of its live music events as well as broaden opportunities for musicians in the city to develop a pathway to perform at both grassroots venues and the largest spaces and stages in Hull. It will also look to develop creative ideas to fundraise activities that support audience development and the talent pipeline, and to solidify Hull as a great city to visit for live music.

As part of longer term aims, the group hopes to not just inspire the next wave of local musicians, but to encourage young people to become involved in the music industry as promoters, technicians or involved in the recording of live music.

It is also hoped that by working together the city may be able to take a joined-up approach to hosting a multi-venue event similar to Live at Leeds or Tramlines in Sheffield, which attract thousands of visitors from outside of their respective cities.

It is the first time in at least 30 years that all major venues in the city have pledged to work together.

Members have already met with officials from the University of Hull to discuss how the city’s music offer may help to attract new students and further meetings with local businesses are planned.

Dan Harris, general manager at the Bonus Arena (managed by ASM Global), said: “Over the last few years Hull has welcomed some enormous bands and artists to the city, with even more planned in 2020. Hull City of Music gives all venues – regardless of size – the chance to come together and celebrate the rich cultural offering, promote the city’s grassroots acts and clear a pathway to continue to put the city on the musical map.”

VMS Live CEO Bert van Horck, which operates Welly, Welly 2 and the Polar Bear, said: “Multiple musical hearts from local government to enterprises and media have joined forces to emphasize the unique and vibrant live music scene in Hull. Music is a vital anchor in the social fabric of our society, and we will continue to drive this forward to the benefit of the audience and the musicians.”

Mark Page, festival director of Sesh Events, which manages and runs Humber Street Sesh and The Social, commented: “Sesh Events is delighted to play a part in the collective ambition to promote Hull as a City Of Music. We shall continue to provide platforms, develop industry pathways, build audiences and help promote the excellence of Hull’s blossoming music scene.”


Circle Fire

Circle Fire partners with East of England Arena and Events Centre

Circle Fire, the specialist electrical services company, has partnered with the East of England Arena and Events Centre to launch fully portable, fast-charging points that can be made available anywhere on the site, allowing organisers to place their charging points precisely where they need them.

Operating at 32A, the points provide a faster charging experience than a domestic point, and each point can charge three vehicles simultaneously.

Dean Rees, business development manager at the venue, said: “We trialled the first install at the Energy and Rural Business Show 2020 at the arena this week, and we are now launching this service to any organiser with a show at the venue.”

The number and disposition of the charging points is entirely flexible to suit the needs of any exhibition, festival or live event held at the venue.

Controlled Events

Controlled Events launches Event Control Room Manager software

Controlled Events has launched Event Control Room (ECR) Manager 2.0 across live event and client projects in Sydney, Australia and the UK.

With deployments encompassing existing UK projects from March and the USA from April, the new platform will benefit event organisers and incident management clients with improved decision support and availability of information. Innovations include precise incident location data using What3Words, improved situational awareness of issues with a greater number of information feeds, graphics updates and simpler workflows for reporting.

Customers and partners will now be able to integrate more risk information, mapping and communications with staff and stakeholders in one platform. Mapping software improvements include overlaying customer base maps with temporary data such as cordons and the location of incidents using What3Words. This will quickly enable users on the ground, control room personnel and partner agencies to operate from a simple and universally available location reference tool.

New features also include incident form tools to enable real time incident and pre-event check reporting and readiness reporting, wind anemometer integration and simpler SMS, email and Slack channel notifications.

Control room users will feel the benefits too, including a refreshed user interface and dashboard, tagging of issues, user to user notifications and reporting tools that have been enhanced to enable swifter debrief information, improved issue flagging and a greater variety of log download options.

Rob Walley, founder of Controlled Events, comments: "With over 190 event days planned already for 2020 in addition to our Event and Resilience client’s own deployments we had two key objectives during this upgrade: Delivering tangible improvements to key features that are loved by current users and delivering new modular features such as mapping that will improve the timeliness and effectiveness of response and reporting. We’re passionate about the benefits, especially as they are already transforming how we ourselves deliver event control support to clients during recent severe weather on two continents, COVID-19 response and other events."

Image: Event360



Site Event

Site Event launches INDICATE app for toilet management at large events

Site Event has announced the launch of INDICATE, the UK's first app for managing toilets at large-scale events.

INDICATE is an intelligent tool for managing toilets at large-scale events. The INDICATE app allows organisers to increase the performance of toilets at events, providing a live overview of all operating units during the event.

Using the alert system allows event organisers to ensure all units are kept clean and topped up with consumables throughout an event, but also to safeguard attendees. The system will send an alert if there is someone in the unit for a set period of time, identifying potentially vulnerable attendees.

Site Event's new tool will provide post-event analysis across the sanitation facilities, from water and waste usage to customer flow as well as comparison data to improve the layout and positioning of toilets for optimal distribution and efficiency.

INDICATE comes with built-in sensors capable of sending and receiving data. This will give organisers the best experience while maximising productivity.

GL Events

GL events UK adds grandstand seating to The Cheltenham Festival

GL events UK will continue to increase the scope and complexity of its contribution to the Cheltenham Festival, delivering new temporary infrastructure including two temporary seating grandstands across the four-day festival of jump racing.

To mark the sixth year of its partnership with Jockey Club Racecourses at Cheltenham Racecourse, GL events will debut its Olympic-standard tiered spectator seating, bringing larger, more comfortable seats, as well as increased leg room for racegoers. The event’s Best Mate and Head On temporary grandstands will be finished with the Peregrine, GL Events’ integrated curved roof design, launched at the inaugural Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

The supplier will again provide the festival’s triple-deck Parade Ring viewing boxes. Upgraded details within these premium hospitality facilities, including improved internal fit-out and newly designed glass handrails at ground level, will raise the bar in terms of aesthetic and finish.

Elsewhere GL events will install and outfit brand activation venues as well as exclusive new hospitality pods, complete with private balconies, throughout The Orchard enclosure.

Finally, it will provide infrastructure and overlay throughout the park, an exciting new addition to The Festival for 2020, where it will provide event support infrastructure as well as bespoke temporary venues for activations including JCB and the Magners Bar experience. GL events’ latest product, a triangular prism-shaped temporary structure known as the Vertex, will provide a smartly dressed, transparent 10 metre entrance into the Park.

David Mackinnon, regional head of operations at The Jockey Club, commented: “Over the past six years we have worked closely with GL Events to offer our racegoers the finest facilities across the racecourse.  We have been working hard developing a new experience in the park, a new enclosure for 2020, and look forward to opening the doors on March 10 for our racegoers to enjoy this new concept. The facilities on site will match the world-class sport on the track.”

GL events UK managing director, Scott Jameson, said: “Cheltenham is one of the biggest occasions on GL events’ calendar and our team is always thrilled to be at the festival. It’s a creative, quality-driven collaboration that results in opportunities to develop and deliver new concepts, ensuring the festival delivers an exciting, enjoyable and seamless premium experience for visitors.”

Crest Planning

Crest Planning signs event safety contract with Luton Borough Council 

Event safety specialist Crest Planning has signed a new contract with Luton Borough Council following the success of its incident management system, Halo, at Luton International Carnival 2018 and 2019, as well as with neighbouring local authority Bedfordshire Borough Council.

Halo will be used at various Luton events including the International Carnival and VE Day Celebrations on May 8 and the Luton Mela, which attracts more than 40,000 people across two days in August. Halo will not be limited to use at events but can also be used in an operational sense for day-to-day use with the borough’s public protection teams, including emergency planning, parking, licensing and neighbourhood enforcement.

Luton Borough Council’s civil protection and business community manager, Pritesh Mistry, says: “We bought Halo after seeing it in action at Luton International Carnival 2019 and at the Ashes Test match at Edgbaston last summer. We were really impressed with the various features of Halo, especially the way that all aspects of an event/incident are logged, ready for reporting post-event. We also liked the fact that we can restrict what different users can see – so that the overall picture can be maintained by the control room, and individual users are not bombarded with constant information.”

Wayne Humberstone, operations director at Crest Planning, adds: “We built our system from the ground up to be exceptionally versatile and robust. This allows Luton Council to deploy Halo in response to natural disasters like floods, to co-ordinate a full multi-agency response and set up relief centres. Halo can support their lone workers as they patrol the streets of Luton keeping them clean and safe. Halo will also provide its traditional functions at events across Luton allowing the public access to a system to keep them safe. Its a truly multi-functional, multi-agency, multi-award winning system like no other on the market and with neighbouring authorities also on the system it will create some brilliant opportunities for cross-border, partnership working.”

AGF Awards

Winners of International AGF Awards 2020 announced

Festivals from seven countries across three continents were crowned winners at the second International AGF Awards ceremony, organised by A Greener Festival.

The ceremony took place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London, as part of the Green Events and Innovations Conference and was supported by Stack-Cup.

To be considered for an award, festivals must undergo a detailed assessment, a site visit, and analysis as part of the evidence-based Greener Festival Award scheme. Winners are those who scored highest across ten categories over the last 12 months. The International Greener Festival Award is the highest overall scoring festival, across all festivals that were assessed globally.

Co-hosts Ben Challis and Claire O’Neill, of A Greener Festival, presented the AGF Awards.

The winners were:

International Greener Festival Award

AGF Greener Transport Award
Cambridge Folk Festival (UK)

AGF Community Action Award
Greenbelt Festival (UK )

AGF Circular Festival Award
(for reduced waste & resourcefulness)
Øya Festival (NO)

AGF Greener Catering Award
DGTL Festival Amsterdam (NL)

AGF Greener Power Award
The Green Gathering (UK)

AGF Pied Piper Award
(for greener communication)
We Love Green (FR)

AGF Greener Creative Award
Wonderfruit Festival (TH)

AGF Water and Sanitation Award
(Supported by MSS International)
Strawberry Fields (AU)

AGF Greener Innovations Award
Composting System @ Sziget Festival (HU)


Global Infusion Group

Global Infusion Group announces Mike Smith as partner in Dubai office

Global Infusion Group’s plans for expansion in the Middle East have received a boost with the announcement that event specialist Mike Smith has re-joined the group as partner in its Dubai office.

Smith previously worked at the Global Infusion Group as operations manager back in 2002 before moving to Dubai. He has always maintained close links to the business and worked with the company on a project-by-project basis in the interim, including a period in Baku for the first ever European Games in 2015.

Global Infusion Group's catering division, GIG, has secured contracts including Expo 2020 in Dubai. The company now hopes that Smith's experience in catering and the wider event market, and his knowledge of the Middle East region, will help them accomplish its expansion plans.

Tony Laurenson, Global Infusion Group’s founder and CEO, commented: “Having Mike on board as a partner in the Dubai office lays solid foundations for our ambitious plans for growth in the Middle East. We’ve identified a gap for our specialist approach to catering and hospitality delivery. Mike knows and understands our business, has a great relationship with me and the wider team and a wealth of experience in events in the region. You could say it has all the ingredients for the perfect recipe.”

Commenting on his return, Smith said: “My relationship with Global Infusion Group goes back almost 20 years. It’s a truly global business with high standards and exceptional service levels at its core. I’m really looking forward to exploring the opportunities to expand its reach in the Middle East. Dubai is a great base for the operation and I know that there is definitely a market for its unique services in crew catering, artist hospitality and major events.”



ICC signs further three-year conference deal with Specsavers

The ICC, Birmingham, has announced that Specsavers has signed for a further three years of conference business, which celebrates a successful 25-year partnership to date between the companies.

Specsavers has confirmed it will continue to stage its National Seminar at the ICC in November, annually, from 2021 – 2023.

The scale of conferences that Specsavers hosts has grown substantially over its time with the venue, with the upcoming National Seminar utilising the full ICC site, complemented by use of the Birmingham Symphony Hall for the main plenary.

The two-day event attracts more than 1,500 delegates per day, utilising all breakout areas and hosting a large exhibition in Hall 3.

Tina Bury, partnership events manager at Specsavers, commented: “Over our 25 years at the ICC we have built up a strong relationship with the fantastic team. They know how we work and are happy to react to our ever-evolving events and requirements.

“Our delegates enjoy the easy travel to the venue from all over the country, which also offers a wide range of hotels within walking distance and the vibrant Birmingham nightlife on the doorstep. The ICC is in the centre of the country, the centre of the city, and it’s clear that our event is at the centre of the ICC teams’ attentions.”

Donna Cunningham, acting sales director of NEC Group Conventions, said: “We are thrilled that Specsavers has signed for three further years of conferencing at the ICC. The longevity of this partnership and continuation of staging such a high-profile event highlights the ICC’s position as a conferencing venue market leader.

“To have the full site in operation for this event demonstrates the scale of the business that Specsavers is bringing to the ICC, as well as providing the venue with a fantastic opportunity to showcase its flexibility and exceptional customer service to thousands of delegates.”


Coronavirus sparks series of event cancellations

The Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) 2020 has been cancelled following a ban by the Swiss government on all large events with more than 1,000 attendees, in response to the coronavirus threat. The ban will be in place until at least March 15.

The annual show is one of the world’s largest automotive events and attracted as many as 600,000 executives and car fans to the city last year. The 90th edition of the GIMS, which was supposed to welcome the media on March 2 and the general public on March 5-15, will not go ahead and all ticket holders will be refunded.

Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the Foundation Board, said: "We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors' top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision.”

Organisers are now having to look to the logistics of dismantling the show.

The financial consequences of the cancellation will be significant and will need to be assessed in the coming weeks.

The event’s director, Olivier Rihs, said the cancellation could cost the Geneva economy between €200m and €250m (£170m-£213m) because of lost spending. The organisers expected to lose about €2m (£1.7m), although carmakers’ fees to exhibit were non-refundable, he said.

In response to the ban, Baselworld, the watchmaking trade show which was to be held from April 30 to May 5, has made the decision to postpone the event until January 28 – February 2.

Following the announcement by Switzerland, France has banned all indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, and, in the worst-hit area, north of Paris, all public gatherings have been banned.

Measures announced after an emergency cabinet meeting also included the cancellation of the Paris half-marathon, which was due to take place March 1.

In addition, the first two races of the MotoGP season, scheduled to take place in Qatar and Thailand in March, have been cancelled.






Nickelodeon’s Slimefest brings slime, music and mayhem to London

Nickelodeon UK has announced that it is bringing Slimefest to the SSE Arena, Wembley on October 26, in partnership with DHP Family. Slimefest is an event for children with music, mayhem and lots of slime.

The addition of a new location follows the event’s success in Blackpool. Slimefest 2020 will take place at The Arena at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on October 17-19 and will then move to the SSE Arena in London for the first time ever. DHP Family will present two shows on October 26 at the SSE Arena, Wembley.

Virginia Monaghan, vice president of events and experiences, ViacomCBS Networks International, comments: “We can’t wait to bring Slimefest back for a fifth year; it’s been such a huge success in Blackpool so we’re looking forward to returning to the UK’s favourite beach resort. Expanding the shows to the iconic arena in Wembley is a testament to the event and its affinity with kids and parents alike. London and Blackpool – prepare for the ultimate badge of honour from us at Nickelodeon... slime!”

Daniel Ealam, director of Live at DHP Family, says: “We’re hugely excited to be partnering with Nickelodeon to launch the first ever London edition of Slimefest! After several highly successful years in Blackpool, it is the natural next step to bring this amazing show to the capital, and The SSE Arena, Wembley is the perfect fit for this unique live event!”

Longstanding Slimefest hosts Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely are returning to the stage and will be joined by Max and Harvey and Holly H for all eight shows.

More than 100,000 people have attended related Slimefest events across the globe in the US, Australia, Italy, UK, Germany and Spain.





Green Events

Green Events and Innovations Conference announces full agenda for 2020

The 12th edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference has announced the full agenda for this years’ event for industry professionals to tackle the urgent issue of sustainability. Organised by not-for-profit A Greener Festival, GEI12 delves in to challenges surrounding festivals, venues, sponsorship, social impacts and touring, with an overarching objective of enhanced understanding, collaboration and action.

Kicking off with Harald Friedl of Circular Economy, the morning features “Focus on Festivals - Living Lab of Live”, hosted by A Greener Festival in collaboration with the International Green Deal. Power, plastics and campsites will be tackled with insight from top festival promoters, including Live Nation and Mojo Concerts, and tales from Into the Great Wide Open, Lowlands, Reading and Leeds, and the Association of Independent Festivals. Audience transport is tackled by Big Green Coach Co and Liz Warwick of Cambridge Folk Festival/Powerful Thinking, including recommendations from the newly launched Show Must Go On report.

Punk legend John Robb, of The Membranes, gives a keynote interview with Sebastian Sandys of Extinction Rebellion before hosting the poignant panel “It’s A Human Story”, where attention goes to the heart of the matter of sustainability and the live industry’s social impacts, inequalities and responsibilities. Insight is shared by music producer Laima Leyton of Soulwax, Kerry O’Brien aka Lady MC, Founder of Young Urban Arts Foundation (YUAF), UU Network, and campaign groups for climate and compassion - Music Declares Emergency and Take A Stand.

PR specialist and author Sangeeta Waldron, of Serendipity PR, hosts the panel “Sustainable Sponsorship, Brands and the PR Greenwash Wobblies!” presented by A Greener Activation. Waldron welcomes knowledge and experience from the O2 Arena, Budweiser, Kilimanjaro Live and Alive Activations, which lift the lid on what impacts brands are having, who is pushing boundaries, what is the best practice, and where we need to go from here.

Claire O'Neill, co-founder of A Greener Festival, commented: "We're very excited about GEI12. Due to the steep curve in action this year there has never been so much experience to share and to learn from in the greener event space. This is going to be a busy and fast-paced agenda - but of course with plenty of fun and inspiration!"

Quick Fire Innovations presents speed pitches for current technologies in power, transport and water. Falmouth University presents live industry perceptions during “Accessibility All Areas”. NCASS debates ecological effects from meat and dairy farming, and food packaging and our food system impacts during “Saving the World Begins At Breakfast”. Experts in water and sanitation debate the knock on effects of changing systems for sustainability, and what potential pitfalls need to be mitigated in “The Butterfly Effect of Change”, hosted by Jane Healy of Glastonbury Festival who will be joined by MSS International.

In addition breakout sessions will include a look at the challenges of expanding markets of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia, reducing touring footprints with a sustainable trucking update from Peiter Smit, and a detailed look at the current landscape of greener temporary power for events.

The event will be topped off by the second International AGF Awards, celebrating the achievements of the greenest festivals and innovators from around the world in the last 12 months, following global assessments by A Greener Festival.

GEI12 takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington High Street, London on March 3.



SecuraSeal confirmed to support the British Superbike Championships 2020

SecuraSeal will work alongside MSVR for the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championships, returning for a second year to provide secure accreditation solutions to the motorsport series.

The company is supplying all accreditation materials for the seven-month 2020 season over 36 race days and nine venues, kicking off on April 10 at Silverstone.

“Enjoying the season and seeing all of our hard work and materials safely securing the entirety of this event is a particular highlight of ours,” says Will Duggins, managing director of SecuraSeal. “Overt and covert features are used to protect the teams, sponsors and event organisers using PVC cards, lanyards, wristbands and car parking passes. The complete accreditation package used to protect the event for all staff, teams and hospitality is key for entry and identification within restricted and controlled areas.”

Series director, Stuart Higgs, says of the partnership: “The Bennetts British Superbike Championship is delighted to be working with SecuraSeal for our accreditation solutions in 2020.  Building from a successful first year, I have been very impressed with the quality of their material and their response to our requirements. Major events require a robust security and access credential system and we have been able to benefit from SecuraSeal’s expertise in providing such solutions at some of the most prestigious premier sporting events in the world."

Duggins adds: “For 2020 we have increased involvement with the processing of ID on site through a unique secure web portal, allowing increased efficiencies on and off site. Also new for this year are the car parking passes with self-adhesive and tamper proof properties, all produced with sequential numbering and covert security features. Partnered with new designs and layouts for the lanyards, cards and wristbands, they don’t only offer the most secure features, they also look great.”

Sport Liverpool Board

Vitality Netball World Cup boosts Liverpool's economy

The Vitality Netball World Cup, which took place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool, delivered an £8.18m economic boost to the city’s economy, according to new research from UK Sport.

Overall, 6.07 million people in Britain attended, watched or followed the tournament which took place in July 2019. In addition to the economic gains, the research also outlines the benefits of hosting the world cup across the other four Sporting Future government outcomes – physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development and social and community development.

The research, conducted by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, calculated the additional expenditure in Liverpool as a result of hosting the tournament from non-local, event specific attendees and event organisers.

The £8.18m boost was generated by the influx of fans (£6.04m), other attendee groups such as the media and event personnel (£1.32m) and the organiser (£0.82m). The tournament was worth significantly more to Liverpool than either the UCI Track Cycling World Championships of 2016 (£3.41m) or the European Aquatics Championships of 2016 (£4.74m) were to London and is on a par with the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup in London (£8.31m).

Other findings from the research included:

  • Physical wellbeing– 160,000 British women were inspired by the event to start playing netball or play netball more while 60 per cent of UK spectators surveyed during the event reported feeling inspired to increase their participation in sport or active recreation as a result of attending the event.
  • Mental wellbeing– 68 per cent of UK spectators felt happier than normal when attending the event, and a similar proportion had a sense of doing something worthwhile. In addition, 1.35m GB adults felt happier than normal because of their interaction with the event.
  • Individual development – 51 per cent of all GB adults who interacted with the event (and 64 per cent of UK female spectators) acquired more knowledge about netball while 46 per cent of UK female spectators felt more confident about their ability to take part in sport and active recreation.
  • Social and community development– 41 per cent of Britons, equivalent to 20.72m of the national population, reported feeling proud about England hosting the Netball World Cup. Among fans from Liverpool, 97 per cent agreed that they felt proud that Liverpool hosted the tournament.

Commenting on the research, Esther Britten, head of major events at UK Sport, said: “The Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool last summer is a superb example of the wider societal benefits that the hosting of global sporting events brings in the UK. Not only do fans enjoy the chance to watch their heroes up close, but there are wide ranging positive benefits to the region, local residents and the UK as a whole.

”As we build towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer there are still a whole host of world class sporting events for UK fans to get involved with, including the Diving World Series, World Skate Street League Skateboarding Championships and the Canoe Slalom European Championships, which have all been made possible with the support of National Lottery funding.”

Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Major sporting events have the power to bring the nation together and inspire people to take up sport, boosting both physical and mental wellbeing. The Netball World Cup in Liverpool last year proved this once more and I am delighted with this report's findings.

“We are determined to continue bringing the biggest and best sporting events to the UK over the next decade. In the next three years we will host UEFA Euro 2020, the UEFA Women’s Euros and Rugby League World Cup in 2021 followed by the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022. We want to capitalise on these fantastic events and continue to inspire participation and strengthen the UK’s global reputation.”

Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, said: “The Netball World Cup is the pinnacle of international netball events and hosting this prestigious competition on home soil provided a once-in-a-generation chance to inspire women and girls across the country to watch, play and get involved in netball. Seeing these stats reminds me of the phenomenal impact that this event had; it makes me incredibly proud of what has been achieved and for the work that everyone behind the scenes put in to make it a success. Since the World Cup we’ve enjoyed record ticket sales at international and Vitality Netball Superleague events and increased grassroots participation numbers. We look forward to maintaining this momentum as we continue to grow our incredible Netball Family over the coming years.”

Liverpool’s deputy mayor and cabinet member for Culture, Tourism and Events, councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Netball fever spread across Liverpool last July, and the city centre felt like a hive of activity, particularly around the arena and the fan zone at Chavasse Park.

“It’s fantastic that it made a real impact on the local economy, and one which will have been felt right across our leisure sector from hotels and restaurants right through to bars and other city attractions.

“However, staging events as prestigious as the Vitality Netball World Cup brings so much more than a financial boost. Liverpool thrives under a global spotlight, and there’s a real sense of pride engendered in residents and visitors as a result of the city hosting these major events - which is quite simply priceless.”

Bob Prattey, chief executive of The ACC Liverpool Group, operators of M&S Bank Arena, said: “This was the biggest global sporting event we have ever hosted at M&S Bank Arena Liverpool and the effect on the wider region, thanks to the tens of thousands of fans who visited the city during the tournament, was reflected in the incredible economic impact that this spectacular event generated.

“In addition to the significant economic boost, its legacy is of the utmost importance in helping to pave the way for more major sporting events in the future at our venue and across the city.”

Image Credit: SWPix


The O2

The O2 to roll out Hidden Disabilities sunflower lanyard scheme

The O2 is adopting the Hidden Disabilities sunflower lanyard scheme to further improve the experience of visitors with hidden disabilities.

The scheme, originally launched at airports and adopted by supermarkets, looks to help those that may have hidden disabilities to discreetly access support and communicate without the need to explain. The initiative will be implemented across the whole of The O2 and will enable staff to offer additional information, support and understanding to those who visit The O2 whether that may be for an event in the arena, shopping at ICON Outlet, a climb Up at The O2 and more.

Adam Wilson, head of customer experience at The O2, says: “We’re really proud of the changes that we’re making here at The O2 to enhance accessibility but also to improve the customer experience of those that may have a hidden disability so they can enjoy their experience just as much as everyone else.”

The backing of the Hidden Disabilities scheme comes as a continued effort by The O2 to implement Good Vibes All Round, an initiative that launched last year and encourages a shift in focus and behavioural change in relation to sustainability, accessibility, charity and community from employees, customers, fans, brand partners and tenants.

Sunflower lanyards will be available to customers at the Box Office, Welcome Desk, Guest Services, AEG Reception and Level One Customer Services desk. Visitors will also be able to receive assistance at Peninsula Square Security, as well as from Guest Relations and security staff across the site.



Continest UK launches with foldable containers for event industry

Continest UK is a new company introducing award-winning foldable container units to events, offering event organisers an 80 per cent cost cut on logistics and storage, with a similar reduction in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.

The new company brings together two experienced event professionals, CEO Andy Moss, owner of sport event logistics/management company Cube Management, and managing director of Continest UK, Brandon Weston, who brings many years’ experience in portable modular buildings and event structures.

“The Continest collapsible containers are real game changers in the events and festival market, offering significant transport and on-site cost savings,” comments Moss. “In addition to cost, Continest introduces major environmental benefits, reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent over standard containers, when using ten or more units. We’re delighted to have secured exclusive UK and Ireland distribution for this incredible product range.”

Weston concurs: “The essence of the Continest foldable solution is that the containers are uniquely developed for easy and quick set up and efficient transportation. This is a win-win situation for festivals, sports, promotional and cultural events - and the environment.”

The development and production of the innovative Continest containers originated from Hungary in 2017.

Continest foldable containers were specially developed for relatively short-period usage, such as events where there is a need for temporary accommodation, offices, meeting rooms, first aid rooms, command posts, guard posts, storage, service areas, cooling and heating environments. They also have wet rooms and units fitted with solar panels.

Vidor Kis-Márton, CEO and co-owner of Continest, states: “We are excited that our foldable container range is now available to the UK event sector. We’re confident that Andy and Brandon will continue with our high professional standards and with the scope for use in the UK market we foresee a considerable reduction in the environmental impact of UK events.”


Gorilla UK awarded three-year contract by Shambala

Gorilla UK has been awarded a three-year contract by Kambe Events, the organiser of Shambala festival. Gorilla, an event production company specialising in the design and build of live events, temporary structures, and promotional vehicles, will design, install and remove bridges, security towers and site structures at the festival in 2020.

Shambala festival is a four-day festival that takes place on August 27-30 in Northamptonshire, England and is attended by around 15,000 people. It features a variety of music including rock, pop, folk and world music.

For Shambala 2019, Gorilla designed, installed and de-rigged several temporary structures, two bridges, one pedestrian and one buggy bridge, and seven security towers using a five-man team over a five-day install and one-day de-rig.

Christine Dent, production manager at Kambe Events, said: “We needed a number of temporary structures to be designed and built around the festival site, primarily two bridges – one for foot traffic and the other capable of carrying buggies – seven security towers and other structures including marquee facades and DJ towers. The team from Gorilla worked with us throughout the process to design, install and de-rig them quickly and efficiently, and we were delighted with the result. As a result, we are pleased to be able to award a three-year contract for the provision of these services."

Managing director of Gorilla, Andy Gregorek, said: “At Gorilla we have developed significant experience in the design and installation of temporary structures for live events. We are thrilled that the organisers have recognised this with the awarding of an extended contract.”


Sledge expands with acquisition of SWM Partners

Sledge, the live events agency, has announced the completion of its acquisition of SWM Partners, a specialist pharmaceutical events business based in Hertfordshire, UK.

SWM organises meetings globally for pharmaceutical companies during the clinical research phase of evaluating new compounds. The business has been established for 23 years and has a turnover of around £10m. The business has 20 staff.

Robin Fawcett, Sledge CEO, said: “SWM is a well-established specialist operator within the events industry. It has a solid client base and a key differentiator is the presence of five specialists in healthcare science on the payroll. We were very impressed by the SWM management team, who will continue to lead the organisation.”

SWM was founded by Sue White and Dr Peter Thomas.

“We are delighted that we have successfully found a company that values the SWM Partners product as much as we do,” commented White. “The plan is that SWM Partners continues to operate from the same location with the same personnel, and offers the same quality services to our clients as it does currently. We feel sure that the injection of a dynamic partner such as Sledge will bring fresh ideas and innovative approaches to further enhance our offer. Peter and I will continue to work on projects as scientific program directors at SWM alongside our logistic teams.”


Hyve agrees long-term deal to host Bett at ExCeL

Hyve, the organiser of Bett, will continue to host its educational technology event at ExCeL London after agreeing a long-term deal with the venue.

The announcement follows another record-breaking show at ExCeL last month.

Bett is a gathering of 800 leading companies, 103 exciting edtech start-ups and more than 40,000 attendees seeking to transform education by bringing together people, ideas, practices and technologies.

The latest edition of the show took place from January 22-25 and was the most well received edition to date, assisted by a change in configuration of the event with the show being split across ExCeL’s north and south halls, allowing exhibitors opportunity to increase investment in stand space, venue media and sponsorship and get better use out of flexible meeting spaces.

Centred around its purpose-built arena in the exhibition hall, the show was opened by Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and iInnovation, with the first day’s keynote session presented by Professor Brian Cox.

On Saturday – the final day of Bett – one of the ExCeL halls was transformed into a football arena, playing host to a five-a-side tournament called EduFootyAid, which raised more than £5,000 for Mind.

Rachel Brodie, global portfolio director, Bett – Hyve Group, said: “We’ve just enjoyed another really successful show at ExCeL London, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from both our visitors and exhibitors. We are proud that the education community from around the world comes together in London to celebrate, find inspiration and discuss the future of education, as well as seeing how technology and innovation enables educators and learners to thrive.

“Planning for 2021 is already well underway. We believe everyone has the potential to make a difference in education. We are passionate about discovering, elevating and amplifying these game changers and we look forward to welcoming the industry back for another exciting show next year.”

Caroline Gourlay, senior account manager - exhibitions, ExCeL London, said: “Amazing things are happening at ExCeL London everyday – but you can’t beat the inspirational work that Hyve continues to do in bringing together educators and tech companies. The event ensures schools, colleges and universities are aware of the latest innovations that will help engage, inspire and help the next generation reach their full potential.

“We’re delighted that this long-term agreement will see the show return to ExCeL for the foreseeable, long-term future and we can’t wait to get working with Hyve on making 2021 even bigger and better than this 2020 show has just been.”