The Coronavirus pandemic, coupled with extensive lockdowns across the world, have undeniably presented new and unexpected challenges for the events industry. Many organisations have had to adapt quickly to keep their customers and staff safe. Others have gone into hiatus until they can resume offering their services as usual.
These changes can, understandably, raise some concerns for anyone considering joining the industry. If you were thinking about earning a degree related to the field, you may now be wondering if this is the right time to invest in that education – or even if there’s scope for you in the industry at all.
We raised these questions with Clare Hearn, Course Leader of our part-time, online MA in Creative Events Management, who comes with 20 years of events management experience. In response, Clare has shared her thoughts on industry-level change in 2020, Falmouth’s offering to future events professionals, and why the events industry’s future still looks bright.
Clare: "COVID-19 has made it tough for a number of industries to run as normal, and ours is no different, unfortunately. It’s certainly been difficult for many people, who desperately miss that entertainment and ability to create memories with friends and family. However, I think if we get too immersed in the size of the challenges ahead of us, we lose sight of the opportunities they provide.
The pandemic has driven everything online. But we were already doing this - teaching students how to work in digital contexts – and not just because the course is digital, but because we work digitally. If you’ve been tasked with pivoting online or delivering hybrid experiences, that’s what we do.Its been very rewarding to receive messages from alumni saying, ‘Thank you so much for teaching us about digital event delivery, because it means now we're still working.’
And if anything, we've learnt during this period that people need to get together. People need to share experiences. And whether that's in the virtual world or the physical world, as soon as people have the opportunity, there’s going to be a huge demand for that again. Which means they’ll need people who are equipped to make it happen.
The industry has already reacted so powerfully and so generously to the needs of people who want to experience safe, community events. I do believe that the events industry will come out of this stronger, thanks to the resilience of event managers, project managers, production staff, performers and everyone else working in this field.
As part of our course, we examine what digital value looks like for performers and the businesses that provide them their audience. It makes our class an exciting place to be in at the moment, because of the questions this encourages; How do we make this amazing? How do we price digital events? What does digital event sustainability look like?
In a sense, our students are lucky because, as an institution, Falmouth was already considering these questions around innovation in delivery and the use of technology. Effectively, how we as practitioners can be incredibly creative with very little, which is where the industry is currently.
We explore the differences between physical, digital, and hybrid events, and how we can design an incredible online experience for an audience member at the same level you would approach organising a physical event. For example, consider how you would organise a musical festival for 400,000 people. Would you apply these same principles to online delivery? What do you keep, and what do you change?
One of my favourite examples is a show that a group of our past students put on alongside a performer named Kat Little. They recorded her performing live, and streamed it through to Facebook and Discord. It was a fantastic event, which aimed to promote accessibility to live music for people with hidden disabilities, because Kat has autism and struggles with being in incredibly busy spaces. With this event, she had a small, comfortable venue, but could perform to more of her fans without impacting her experience as a performer. They utilised digital delivery to create a really powerful and inclusive hybrid event.
Of course, the hybrid model has been around for years, but hopefully it won’t be reserved for only big budget events anymore. I do think the long-term impact of this period will be that hybrid events become the norm – with digital improving both accessibility and reach. Our consumers have always been online. As an industry, we now need to catch up with them."
Are you interested in earning your MA in Creative Events Management? Our online MA was specifically created to help students earn their degree while still working. With our TEF Gold teaching and your own personal student advisor, you’ll receive the support needed to find success within the industry.