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IPM 15: Pros discuss experience gap, power of energy

Highlights from A Seat At The Table (Veterans & Rookies) and the Power of Energy sessions at the International Production Meeting

By Gordon Masson on 27 Apr 2022

A Seat At The Table, Veterans & Rookies

A Seat At The Table, Veterans & Rookies

image © Alexis Dubus Photography

IPM’s first panel of its 15th edition (A Seat At The Table, Veterans & Rookies) saw chair Lina Ugrinovska (Banana & Salt) aiming to bridge the gap between the generations, with the help of vastly experienced production gurus Liz Madden (NoNonsense Group) and Bryan Grant (Britannia Row), and younger experts Freya Lawson (WellHung PA/£T – Tour Tech Training) and Cathal Flaherty (Gleneagle INEC Arena).

The panellists agreed that communication is key to helping newcomers progress in their careers, as is finding a mentor – and acting as a mentor to others.

Madden noted that after two years off in the industry, the experience gap in the industry seems to have widened again and the wealth of knowledge that needs to be passed on before people retire is even more crucial.

Madden and Lawson flagged up their part in the Production Futures touring roadshow around the UK that attempts to lure people into the sector, highlighting the need for recruitment both for those who undertake higher education and those that choose not to. Grant revealed his company had initiated its own apprenticeship schemes, as government-run courses were not fit for purpose.

Lawson stated that her university experience had landed her a role at the London Olympics, which led to her career, noting that the experience of further education can play a vital role for many people opening doors into the business.

Madden noted that after two years off in the industry, the experience gap in the industry seems to have widened again

Flaherty agreed, reflecting that his college experience led to a job in radio, but the experience of working in the sector after that led to his current role at the arena.

Various delegates from around Europe provided their insight into attracting newcomers into the industry, with the general consensus being that skills were down to individuals and their work ethic, rather than the route of formal education.

The conversation then switched to the issue of crews being overworked with Grant confessing that the practices of yesteryear were nothing to boast about, while Lawson stressed that if people were walking away from jobs because they were too tired either mentally or physically, then those people should be listened to. But with monetary matters front and centre, both delegates and panellists agreed that something has to change for the long-term sustainability of the live events sector.

Ugrinovska concluded that the message needs to be communicated down the generations, but also to other sectors – agents, promoters, artist managers and the artists themselves, if any positive change is going to be achieved.

The Power of Energy
The hot topic of the cost of electricity dominated The Power of Energy panel which examined the changing face of the sector and the drive toward greener solutions, with chair Duchess Iredale from EPI Ltd moderating proceedings.

Bilabel added that addressing power needs at festivals has to be examined

Pete Wills of Power Logistics noted that there are many companies now developing and producing green products, but that there are still anomalies, citing an example of machinery that had to come from France with two people to operate it, while the fuel had to come from Aberdeen, making the technology an expensive proposition.

Padraic Boran of Irish promoters MCD Productions noted that putting in permanent power on a festival or even a stadium site was cost-prohibitive because generators are currently a better solution when they are only needed for, say, 100 hours per year. However, he stated that the inefficiency of running generators with a large power outage for an event that needs a fraction of that power is something that needs to be examined.

ES Global’s Amy Casterton said looking at a whole event, including trucking needs and how the audience travels there, has to be part of the overall carbon footprint calculation. She noted that her company’s staging is reused all the time, but the goal is to reduce the carbon footprint across all activities so that clients can also benefit from that greener policy.

Jacob Bilabel of Thema1 outlined his organisation’s aims to improve sustainability and stated that he no longer believes it was a choice to be green or not, as legislation and regulations are demanding changes. While he recognised that it was expensive to develop and innovate, he warned that it would be even more expensive not to.

Bilabel added that addressing power needs at festivals has to be examined, as the likes of hydrogen cells might not be able to provide the energy needs for an entire event unless all the aspects of the electricity load requirements are studied with a view toward sustainability.


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