What’s the new norm for marquee companies? MUTA’s Joe Chalk talks

Joe Chalk, membership support coordinator at MUTA, explains how shelter and storage could become the temporary normal for the marquee and tent industry

Despite the fact events, festivals and shows are all on hold, in the last month MUTA has seen some exceptional examples of how members have responded quickly to this fast-moving crisis.

We have already witnessed the safe installation of temporary structures for bespoke hospitals, extensions to existing hospitals, drive-through test centres and, sadly, mortuaries. We have also seen large quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) being produced at a rapid pace to support the NHS and local communities.

Dean Foster, MUTA executive committee member, said: “During these extremely challenging times, it’s fantastic to see so many members playing a pivotal role and providing products and services to support this national crisis.”

According to a report produced by Davies Tanner and the BVEP, a PR agency, the UK events industry predicts its road to recovery will begin in September. This leaves a precarious void between now and then – habitually, the most profitable time for our members and the wider industry.

Some reports suggest we may have to follow social distancing guidelines for quite some time to prevent further large-scale outbreaks of COVID-19.

This could result in the need for additional capacity to existing buildings to comply with such measures. Temporary structures offer the perfect solution and come in all shapes and sizes to meet specific requirements. Some members have already turned their attention to supporting warehouses, supermarkets and other businesses – a trend that may become the temporary normal.

We must remind everyone that not all temporary structures are inherently safe – there are many “homemade” varieties out there in the market. MUTA would urge those involved in hiring a temporary structure(s) to use a member, all of which abide by our industry-leading Best Practice Guide and are audited to ensure that they do. This temporary normal will not suit all and we sincerely hope that the outdoor events industry will receive the support it deserves, starting with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) making it explicitly clear to local authorities that those in the event supply chain are eligible for the expanded rates discount and grant scheme.

It has so far been a postcode lottery and over two thirds of members are continuing to challenge for this vital financial support to be provided.