The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to the way we live our lives and interact with others. This was only too evident with national lockdowns putting an end to all but essential contact in early 2020. Being reliant on social contact and interaction, the global events industry all but ground to a halt and while this dynamic industry is used to evolving and adapting to its external environment, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges with the postponement or cancellation or live face-to-face events around the world. The impact upon the industry was devastating with businesses closing, workers being made redundant or furloughed, and freelancers facing an uncertain future. The very nature of the industry meant that it was one of the first to close but would be one of the last to reopen – indeed, while we are starting to see a return of some live events throughout the summer of 2021 the ongoing uncertainty surrounding social distancing and concerns about the underwriting of insurance have meant that many iconic events have made the hard decision to cancel for a second year running.
However, all is not lost for the events industry or the creative and innovative individuals of whom it is comprised and, who have done what they always do and adapted to their environment. Throughout the pandemic we have seen an acceleration in the use of digital technology with many events pivoting to virtual delivery in lieu of live events and/or adopting models of hybrid delivery as we emerge into a new, post-pandemic world. This was evident in Scotland where in 2021 our hallmark events took on the challenge of adapting to the new normal with the world-famous traditional music festival Celtic Connections delivering its programme entirely online and the Royal Highland Show operating via hybrid delivery to name just a couple of examples. While we hope to see a return to live events in the not-too-distant future there is no doubt that digital technology has a role of play in ensuring the future sustainability and viability of the events industry as we adapt to a new normal.
Here at the University of the West of Scotland experts from the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events and Centre for Business Innovation and Transformational Technology have worked together to develop a CPD module to assist event practitioners in understanding the impact of COVID-19 and other external factors on the events industry and explore how to ensure its future survival, with a particular focus on the use of digital technology. Taught via a combination of live online classes and asynchronous tasks and activities the module will examine the impact of external environmental challenges upon the events industry, exploring the various ways in which different types and genre of events around the world have sought to reimagine their offerings to ensure recovery and survival. It will consider the wider policy perspectives and operational challenges of delivering events as the industry emerges from the constraints of COVID-19 into a ‘new normal’ before looking more specifically at the opportunities afforded in relation to the digital dimension of events and ways in which transformational technology can be used to support and enhance the event experience. Finally, the module will consider the future of events and how event professionals and organisations can utilise digital technology to ensure their longevity in an ever-changing environment.
Aimed at those who are currently working in the events industry or are looking to upskill and further develop their knowledge, participants will learn from a range of experts in both events and digital/transformation technology, ensuring that they develop academic knowledge and practical skills that can be implemented in their respective workplaces. Applications for the course are now open with a limited number of funded places being available to those working or residing in Scotland. More information can be found at https://cpd.uws.ac.uk/w/courses/159-funded-module-the-future-of-events
We very much hope that you will join us so that we can work together to secure The Future of Events!