Category Archives: conference

BUICE day three, 5 July 2013: International Conference on Events and AEME forum, Bournemouth University

Notes from keynote talks and discussions on day three of the #BUICE2013 conference.



  • Getz: Event Studies Academy idea
  • Napier: looking ahead to hosting BAFA student event


Industry associations panel

  • MPIUK: Samme Allen
    • Collaboration between partners is key
    • Student membership: E40, with transition rate towards full membership
    • Takes students to events and shows around the world
    • Research: keen to do more, CSR research
    • Student Club: formation of a student organisation to bring students together and build links to industry
    • Young Achievers Award
    • Accreditation
    • Too many organisations, a need to work through what can be offered
  • Richard Limb: National Outdoor Events Association
    • Setting up a student council, recognising that there’s lots to be offered by students
    • Work placements via the organisation
    • Sitting on validation panels for degree courses
    • Advocates that students get involved in events… but also get involved in the trade and industry bodies that support your industry
    • Was also involved in Events Industry Forum, which was the platform on which Purple Guide was written
  • International Special Events Society: James Morgan
    • Creativity at their heart
    • Students welcome, to ask questions, to shine in front of recruiters
    • Practical emphasis to much of their work: how to do stuff
    • Annual educational conference
    • @ISES_UK
    • To be done: a need for more creativity – industry has to go beyond business school graduates to get access to creative skills (video, CAD)
    • Has an office in Edinburgh
  • IFEA Europe
    • An international perspective
    • Links to Breda NHTV
    • Summer camp: September 2013; theory based, but also linked to massive street arts festival
    • Student membership of IFEA is done through international chapter (USA)
  • Rachel Ley: Eventia
    • UK trade body, covering broad mix of members
    • Members’ specialisms are also broad
    • Due to merge with alt organisation to develop new aspects within the events space
    • Advocating recognition that the events sector takes on board the mix of careers and industries involved in events
  • Jane: SEFA
    • Networking, lobbying, broad membership
    • Embryonic… events, training, CPD
    • Student membership
    • Opportunities to further support student activity: USEC 2014?
  • Q: lack of student engagement – an issue of timing? Do students think that the world owes you a living… a need for student action. A need for associations to work together in order to make more sense to the students who have multiple demands on their time
  • Q: lots of student competitions – what opportunity for a single point of entry to these competitions? This is apparently happening
  • Q: universities should be developing student networking skills and professionalism, making them aware of their opportunities for careers – what’s the career path?
  • Q: develop skills in production – industry says this is what’s missing in graduates
  • Q: customers driving change – what are customers and clients interested in? What do the students have in mind in terms of who they’d like to work for/with?


Nick Dodds: FEI and Cultural Olympiad

  • 11 months working for LOCOG on 2012 Festival
  • Planning for a four year Cultural Olympiad, but that turned out to be a long time to sustain the drive despite a good start: worries started to rise
  • Creation of CO board featuring top names, who recruited Ruth Mackenzie to develop the closing months
  • Operations
    • Curated festival, but only really worked because of partnerships
    • Festival delivered through third parties – 250 partners, 600 productions, 13,000 performances
    • Case: Mittwoch aus Licht – challenging opera from Stockhausen
    • Partners: benefited from being part of 2012, despite scepticism at times; £4m marketing budget made a difference, bringing people on board
    • £63m overall budget from many sources
  • Commissions and premieres
    • 160 world and UK premieres
    • eg Streb
  • Unusual locations
    • Taking artworks into many new sites, showing off the uk to the rest of the world
    • Stonehenge: fire garden
    • Hadrian’s Wall
    • Giants’ Causeway
  • Free events
    • 80% of attendances free
  • Olympic themes
    • Tying in to IOC themes, such as Truce
    • eg Peace Camp
    • eg Peace One Day at Derry
  • ‘Unlimited’
    • Deaf and disabled artists
  • Evaluation
    • Full report online from Liverpool Uni (Garcia?)
    • Looking ahead, foresees lots of sporting events having cultural programmes alongside them
    • Legacy of new venues now available for creative work


Philip Day: licensing events

  • Paterson’s Licensing Act publication
  • Government has also published advice
  • Presentation based on 2003 Act which was designed to deregulate, but hasn’t quite worked like that


Jago: events as a serious research area

  • A need to get back to core disciplines
  • Tourism programmes have slumped at the same time that events has risen: programmes, journals, graduates, phd work
  • But are there jobs for the graduates?
  • Also caught between industry needs and old school academic needs
  • Tourism: researchers there were anchored in older disciplines (geography, etc.)
  • Hospitality: staff came across from industry to teach
  • Events: somewhere in the middle – out of tourism, but without the hands on experience either; lacking the research professors that others have
  • Publications: tend to reference events literature, rather than core discipline sources; a lack of overview with research too focused on single events
  • Mair and Whitford (2013) look at research focus
  • Negative views on events publication: too much on economic impacts; repetitive structural equation measures; poor sampling
  • Going forward: go back to core disciplines; look across more than one event to reflect on the field in general; develop theory; publish in non-events journals; attract non-events researchers to look at events; develop research only positions; research academy; capitalising on enthusiasm for events among researchers

Culturing our Creativity: Edinburgh, 17 June 2013


Back in June 2013, some six weeks ago, I attended a one day conference for the creative industries, held at the lovingly restored Assembly Rooms on George Street, Edinburgh. This same venue is currently at the heart of a transformation to get it ready for the Fringe, which will also see most of the street closed off to traffic and given over to al fresco hedonism. We await the results of the bacchanalian town planning revolution.

My notes from the conference are brief but hopefully give a flavour of the themes being discussed on the day. The event was produced by AmbITion Scotland, among others, and further details are available from them just here.


Eleonora Belfiore (University of Warwick) opened the day to discuss ‘Reframing Cultural Value’. She hosts a blog with resources on ‘the #culturalvalue initiative’. Among the points made were that ‘cultural value’ is at the heart of policy decisions relating to the cultural sector, but that the debate was based on market logic. This logic now permeates a ‘marketing society’, seeping into previously market-free areas of policy and activity. This has introduced new characteristics to relationships between stakeholders, the public sector and so on. It also throws up issues of market failure, but in a social sense rather than economy. She cited FS Michaels as an exponent of the idea that an economic narrative is now dominant, with value established a measure of return on investment.

Belfiore commented that this has seen something of a de-politicisation of the value debates relating to the arts: arguments are not being made on the basis of intrinsic values, but rather technical questions related to ‘impacts’. This puts the arts and cultural sectors into the invidious position of attempting to argue their case in economic terms, but they fail to fully engage because their passion is elsewhere and ultimately they don’t really ‘understand’ the nature of the discussion. It’s a charade and audiences and agencies recognise this as well.

How then to reframe the arguments away from economics: It is necessary to ask and establish where the value lies for the wider public, how do they perceive and appreciate the arts? To also ask where in the arts ecosystem cuts can best be made, while maintaining the key elements of that system? To also ask what the arts are for, and ultimately who gets to decide? This is a strategic discussion calling for strategic vision, thinking further ahead. Fiona Hyslop’s speech has served to create a space in which we might have such a debate, to enable difficult questions to be asked and to show that Scotland is taking the debate into new areas compared to the rest of the UK.


The Art of Living Dangerously’ was introduced, a project being conducted within Scottish Higher Education and a report due for publication later in 2013. Among its themes are: risk, collaborations, spaces, sustainability, planning and power. Among the international comparisons being made is Denmark where a welfare system exists that supports artists, without stigma, incentivising work that can be toured. Policy ideas being suggested for the UK include a voucher system that could see venues and organisations competing for artists: the intention is to see a degree of power shifting to the artists as they then bring the money with them.


Ben Cameron spoke, bringing a strong New York accent to proceedings. He advocated the importance of having a clear strategic underpinning to creative industries organisations: a vision (on which such organisations tend to be quite clear); a mission (less clarity here); values (this is an area where organisations have a choice). He called for a form of ‘arts reformation’.


Bob Last discussed the concept of the ‘creative industries’ as a legacy of Chris Smith’s time in office during Tony Blair’s years. Part of a neoliberal project perhaps? The terminology enabled the merging of more art forms into a ‘one size fits all’ solution as far as policy makers are concerned, also leading to an ‘uncreative’ wasteland? In an era that demands evidence-based analysis, what happens when you are unable to produce the sort of clear-cut answers and evidence that is more readily available to others: the arts produce emotional outputs, rather than the clearer data associated with (e.g.) medical science.

Last proposed that the debate be framed around ‘intent’ rather than outputs. He also put forward the notion of ‘collective capital’ as something that the broader industry can invest into, if a way can be found to value it.


Hannah Rudman, of AmbITion Scotland and Envirodigital, introduced an explicitly ecological thread to the day. Her resources are available here: The environmental theme was linked to broader questions of justice, civil liberties, equality and so on. As such it was argued that although the creative industries may bear only a small responsibility for today’s environmental problems they can play a larger part in their solutions. Social media plays its part here too, enabling the social network to become visible around events, festivals, cultural organisations and so on – individuals are thus enabled, engaged, given agency and able to help establish norms for their communities. As a result practical steps such as car sharing and other sustainable practices gain a foothold. Rudman also advocated that artists engage with scientists in order to tell stories.


Questions to finish the day

A round of questions to a mixed panel finished off the day. Points to emerge included the idea that ‘everything’s now in play’ when it comes to funding: Kickstarter, etc. Such tools can also act as ways to encourage engagement with your work, for some they are a way in to particular arts-based professions. When it comes to public funding the point was made that organisations and individuals need to show that they can make work independently first – the public sector needs to have confidence that it is investing with some chance of success. It was felt that although artists have little problem arguing their case for what they bring to society the policy makers and funders are less clear on such points. Finally, the theme of ‘audience engagement’ was reframed as ‘who do we need to attend in order to make this event kick off?’ – a more targeted approach with rewards that benefit the event as much as the ‘desired’ audience.


Image: ‘Ceiling features, the Music Hall’  |