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ASM partners with AI-based security scanning system

ASM Global has announced a partnership with Evolv Technology, a leader in weapons detection security screening.

The implementation of the “state-of-the-art technology” is said to enhance venue safety and security at ASM venues, as well as improve the customer experience by reducing queues and offering a seamless and swift arrival to the venue.

AO Arena (cap. 21,000), operated by ASM, is the first arena in Europe to use Evolv’s technology as part of a £50m investment into Manchester’s iconic venue.

The venue has been using AI-based threat detection screening system, Evolv Express, to screen guests as they arrive at the arena for events, without the need to stop or remove items from their pockets or policy-compliant bags.

So far, the system has been used for eight shows and welcomed over 54,000 guests with a full roll-out planned for September.

As part of the new partnership, ASM Global has been working closely with Evolv to ensure the technology has been tested to government standards in both the UK and US, as well as collaborating on further improvements and continuous development.

“We are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme”

Evolv Express uses powerful sensor technology with proven artificial intelligence (AI) to provide safer, more accurate threat detection at unprecedented volumes and speed of entry. Venue ingress data provided by Evolv’s analytics also helps venues to transform the way in which they plan their security staff and wider operations.

In an industry first, security professionals can use historical and real-time screening data to gain insights and to make predictions about throughput, with the goal of improving the guest experience while making the space more secure.

Peter George, CEO, Evolv Technology, says: “We are thrilled to partner with ASM Global to provide an enhanced security posture for AO Arena while making sure the guest experience is truly enhanced. With this partnership, AO Arena joins other iconic venues secured by Evolv, including Lincoln Center and Gillette Stadium in the US. As we continue to expand globally, we look forward to working with ASM to help bring safer venues and better experiences to more people.”

Gary Simpson, director of safety security and risk for ASM Global, adds: “We have been working with Evolv for over two years supporting the testing and development of the Evolv Express system. The detection technology has been used for some time in America but this is the first such deployment at an arena in Europe. Given the positive experience at the AO Arena, Manchester we are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme.”

Evolv operates as part of ASM Global’s VenueShield, the company’s safety and security programme. Evolv marks the first addition to VenueShield since Covid as security and safety turn to new technologies to keep customers safe and to future-proof venues.

 


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MAMA Group co-founders launch new Manchester venue

A “next generation” live music venue and cultural destination from the co-founders of MAMA Group is opening in Manchester’s Circle Square next month.

Launched by Canvas Venues Group (CVG), the team behind London’s The Pickle Factory and Oval Space, the 600-cap Canvas is aimed at the under 30s market and marks CVG’s first foray outside of the capital.

The company has invested £2 million into the development, which is backed by investment group Edition Capital and opens on 8 June. Set across free floors, it comprises a music venue, members bar and lounge and late night bar and restaurant. It will host a series of live gigs from both national and international acts, album launches, club nights and listening parties.

“Manchester was always where we were going first outside of London as a city of huge cultural significance, especially in the music scene,” says owner and co-founder Dean James. “We launched Canvas here because Manchester represents music, community, and entertainment in spades.”

“This generation needs a place to re-establish and rebuild the social connections that were taken from them over the past two years”

Initially operating in Manchester and London, CVG intends to roll out the concept to cities such as Glasgow and Bristol in the UK, and Melbourne and Austin internationally.

James previously co-founded MAMA Group, which owned and operated Lovebox, Wilderness and Great Escape festivals as well as Hammersmith Apollo, Jazz Café, Forum, Manchester Ritz and G-A-Y venues. MAMA was acquired by LN-Gaiety in 2015.

“We have aimed this venue specifically at the youth market because we believe, now more than ever, this generation needs a place to re-establish and rebuild the social connections that were taken from them over the past two years,” adds James. “We will aim our programming and our members’ events squarely at helping them to rebuild those connections and a way of life that involves connecting with people.

“Circle Square stood out to us as a destination due to its central location and close proximity to the universities. Canvas is a way we can champion the freshest talent in the industry, whilst developing the next generation and we look forward to seeing it become part of the community.”

“The appeal to open Canvas here comes from the breadth and diversity of Manchester’s live music and cultural scene”

The venue will operate a ‘plastic free’ policy in a bid to eliminate single use plastics. Canvas’ music policy will reflect a more commercial version of the current Oval and Pickle programming, and members will have access to two free gigs or club nights a month and specifically curated weekly members’ events.

“Manchester has a history of being creative and rebellious within the fabric of its music scene from the beginning,” adds head of programming Joe Splain. “The appeal to open Canvas here comes from the breadth and diversity of Manchester’s live music and cultural scene and the influence it has not just on British music culture, but also internationally.”

“By giving people a platform to share and collaborate, Canvas has a really unique way of bringing together artists and audiences from underrepresented backgrounds. We try hard to avoid being polarised – I think it’s this passion that keeps us ahead of the curve and relevant to what our communities actually want.”

 


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Co-op Live announces multiple sponsorship deals

Co-op Live, the new arena opening in Manchester, UK, in 2023, has announced a raft of official suppliers taking the total number of partners signed so far to seven.

Britvic, Elavon, Unilever and Schneider Electric are the latest brands to join the growing list of partners, led by Co-op as the naming rights partner.

Britvic joins as official soft drink partner with exclusive rights to provide the full range of Pepsi drinks, including 7-Up, Tango, and London Essence Tonics. To help deliver on commitment to keep sustainability at the heart of Co-op Live, the British based soft drinks company will provide sustainable packaging. Britvic will also have two permanent branded locations in the venue for Pepsi Max and London Essence.

Adam Russell, director of Foodservice & Licensed, Britvic, says: “Co-op Live is such an exciting project to partner with, and strengthens our brand association with live music even further. Supporting the venue on its sustainability footprint is important to us and we will be using all of the tools available in our Healthy Planet, Healthy People strategy to implement this brilliantly.”

Co-op Live will use a range of cutting-edge technology to create the best live music experience in the UK, and Elavon will be the official supplier providing the technology that underpins the arena’s status as a cashless venue. Elavon is working with Co-op Live to create an innovative and seamless customer journey that showcases the future of payment processing.

To support the venue’s drive for sustainability as well as providing the increasing number of people enjoying a plant-based diet with great-tasting products, Unilever-owned brand, The Vegetarian Butcher, will be working alongside naming rights partner, Co-op, and providing the tastiest plant-based meat alternatives for venue-goers to enjoy with its unrivalled range of meat-free Butcher’s cuts. In addition, with hygiene and safety continuing to remain a top priority when visiting venues, Unilever brand Lifebuoy, the world’s number one hygiene soap brand, will be supplying its superior hand sanitisation products through the venue’s first-class sanitation and hygiene services.

“It’s proof of the excitement that Co-op Live is bringing that global brands are committing to the project at this early stage”

Hazel Detsiny, VP Away From Home Channel, Unilever UK&I says: “As well as attending an exciting live event that gets the pulse racing, we know that more than ever venue-goers are looking to enjoy it in surroundings that are not just state-of-the-art but sustainable too. Which is why we’re teaming up with Co-op Live to provide venue-goers with the tastiest plant-based options that don’t compromise on flavour or texture with The Vegetarian Butcher, as well as ensuring hygiene remains top-of-mind and easily accessible through our hygiene brand Lifebuoy.”

As part of Co-op Live’s plans to become the UK’s most sustainable and first all-electric venue, Schneider Electric has been signed as an official supplier for the both the hardware and software for the electrical & building management systems, Schneider Electric will also provide digital services and preventative maintenance throughout the venue.

Schneider Electric’s David Williams, VP marketing for the UK and Ireland commented, “Acting socially and environmentally responsibly is key to this project and also at the core of Schneider Electric’s business, so we’re proud to announce this close partnership with both Co-op and Oak View Group International. This partnership will see Schneider ensure the venue is sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient and people-centric.”

All the sponsors announced today will benefit from a range of marketing and branding opportunities including in campaigns to promote Co-op Live prior to opening and once open. One of the defining aspects of Co-op Live’s pioneering approach to partnerships is that all partners are being encouraged to make an annual donation so together Co-op Live with its fans, artists, and partners can donate over £1m to local and national good causes each year via the Co-op Foundation. Britvic, Elavon, Unilever, and Schneider Electric will all make annual donations to this initiative.

Today’s announcement follows several other significant partnership announcements, led by Co-op as the naming rights partner. At the end of last year, it was revealed that Diageo will be the official drinks partner and that Bristol Street Motors is the official motor retailer. The venue is backed by investors, Oak View Group, City Football Group and international superstar Harry Styles.

Sam Piccione, president of OVG International, says: “It’s proof of the excitement that Co-op Live is bringing to Manchester and the UK live entertainment market that global brands are committing to the project at this early stage of development.

“Building strong relationships with a wide range of partners and suppliers this early in the process of creating Co-op Live is another thing that sets the project apart. As we’ve shown already, it’s enabling us to build in shared values from partnerships right from the start. We thank Britvic, Elavon, Unilever, and Schneider Electric for committing so early as partners to Co-op Live.”

 


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Co-op Live hires Coldplay sustainability consultants

Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live is partnering with Hope Solutions to develop the arena’s net-zero strategy.

Pioneers in reducing live entertainment’s impact on the environment, Hope Solutions has worked with industry sustainability leaders such as Glastonbury and Coldplay – who are embarking on an eco-friendly world tour.

Under the new partnership, Hope Solutions will establish a framework for measuring, tracking, reporting and reducing carbon impacts at Co-op Live.

The firm will also establish a planet-friendly rider that can help shape discussions with suppliers, artists, and promoters.

It was recently announced that the £365 million, 23,500-cap venue – a JV between OVG, Manchester-based City Football Group (CFG) and Harry Styles – will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in late 2023.

The firm will also establish a planet-friendly rider that can help shape discussions with suppliers, artists, and promoters

The venue takes note of OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena, in Seattle, which is the world’s most environmentally friendly venue.

OVG recently affirmed its commitment to addressing the climate crisis at its first-ever leadership conference in Los Angeles.

Francesca Bodie, president of business development, Oak View Group commented: “Climate change is the fight of our lives, and our industry has an important role to play because we have the power to inspire. We were proud to open the first carbon-neutral arena, Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, last year, and the appointment of Hope Solutions will help bring our planet-friendly vision to life at Co-op Live, which will be the UK’s best and most sustainable arena.”

Mark Donnelly, COO, Co-op Live, added: “Co-op Live will be the UK’s first all-electric and one of the world’s most planet-friendly arenas when it opens in 2023. This partnership with industry-leading climate experts Hope Solutions will enable us to deliver on our net-zero carbon ambitions. The creation of an eco-friendly rider for artists visiting Co-op Live will ensure we’re ready to accommodate everyone’s needs as we begin to book some of the world’s best artists later this year.”

Luke Howell, Hope Solutions, said: “This project represents a real turning point in sustainable culture – being able to deliver world-class entertainment in a low carbon and environmentally positive manner is real progress and we are really looking forward to supporting the Co-op Live team in delivering this. Being sustainable and achieving net-zero doesn’t have to impact on the creative integrity and audience experience, in fact it can absolutely enhance it so both people and planet benefit as this venue will prove.”

The OVG team currently has 11 arena projects under development globally, with Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and UBS Arena in New York both opening last year.

Sustainability in live music is at the heart of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI). Find tickets and more information here.

 


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ASM Global hires Jen Mitchell as GM of AO Arena

ASM Global has appointed Jen Mitchell as general manager of the AO Arena (cap. 21,000) in Manchester, UK.

Mitchell will replace current GM James Allen, who is leaving ASM Global in April to set up his own venture.

Mitchell joins from the ASM-operated First Direct Arena (13,781) in Leeds, where she has spent the past five years working as GM, leading the team through an array of industry challenges and venue enhancements.

With 23+ years working in the venue and entertainment industry, Mitchell’s career includes working with venues and festivals from 400 seats to 80,000, with teams ranging from 30 to 800 staff.

Mitchell has worked in Qatar, Australia, and several venues and organisations around the UK, including the opening of Kings Place, London, which famously held 100 concerts in its opening five days.

“Jen has vast experience and a proven track record in delivering excellent results throughout her career”

Commenting on Mitchell’s appointment, Marie Lindqvist, SVP operations Europe at ASM Global, says: “Jen has vast experience and a proven track record in delivering excellent results throughout her career, including her time at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Jen comes with great business acumen and is skilled in developing high-performing teams. So, we’re delighted that Jen is remaining a part of the ASM Global team and are pleased to announce her appointment as the new GM of the AO Arena, Manchester.”

Mitchell added: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at the iconic AO Arena and to be able to continue my career within the ASM Global family. There are exciting times ahead, and I look forward to being part of the journey as the venue continues to grow and bring world-class entertainment to our valued partners and customers.”

Jen Mitchell will commence her new role from April 2022, as the AO Arena, Manchester looks ahead to a busy and exciting year, with major live music events taking place including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and more.

 


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OVG secures ‘industry-first’ Co-op Live deal

Oak View Group (OVG) has secured an “industry-first” debt financing to fund the construction of east Manchester’s new Co-op Live arena.

The £365 million, 23,500-cap venue – a JV between OVG and Manchester-based City Football Group (CFG), will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in late 2023. Harry Styles has also signed up as an investor.

It has now been announced that OVG and CFG have closed and funded a 27-year senior secured note and five-year senior secured credit facility for the project. The private non-recourse financing is said to be a first for a music-focused live entertainment facility without a professional sports anchor tenant.

“It shows the confidence in our business model and ability to deliver on a robust, year-round calendar of unparalleled music and other content”

Long term financing is provided by Apollo and Barings, supplemented by a five-year bank loan from JP Morgan. The deal is secured by Co-op Live and the cash flow generated by the arena over 27 years. The balance of funding towards construction is provided by Co-op Live’s shareholders.

“We’re proud to have closed this pioneering financing to help fund the development of Co-op Live, which will deliver one of the world’s best arenas to Manchester,” says Francesca Bodie, OVG’s president of business development. “It shows the confidence in our business model and ability to deliver on a robust, year-round calendar of unparalleled music and other content.”

The OVG team currently has 11 arena projects under development globally, with Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and UBS Arena in New York both opening last year.

 


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OVG reveals new founding partner for Co-op Live arena

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced Bristol Street Motors as a founding partner of the Co-op Live arena, opening in Manchester in 2023.

The partnership will see Bristol Street Motors as the Official Motor Retailer and auto partner for the venue, with exclusive naming rights to a 4,000-capacity space inside Co-op Live now known as ‘The Street’.

‘The Street’ will be the largest point of entry into the venue, boasting a 22 metre-long bar and vibrant food market where fans can meet before and after concerts.

“Within an arena that will deliver a world-class experience, The Street will be an inviting, fun and interactive place to meet up, aligning exactly with what we strive to provide customers within our dealerships across the country,” says Liz Cope, CMO of Bristol Street Motors.

‘The Street’ will be the largest point of entry into the venue, boasting a 22 metre-long bar and vibrant food market

“From showcasing some amazing cars to creating many exciting areas for the public to enjoy, we’re very excited to meet at The Street in 2023 and hope others will be too.”

Under the partnership, Bristol Street Motors will also provide a number of co-branded electric vehicles for use by artists, guests, and executive staff, in line with Co-op Live’s vision to become the UK’s first all-electric arena.

The arena has previously announced partnerships with Co-op (naming rights partner), Diageo (official drinks partner) and Guinness (official beer partner). The venue is backed by investors, OVG, City Football Group and international superstar Harry Styles.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live, based at the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, is to be the UK’s biggest arena.

 


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Co-op Live to become UK’s first all-electric arena

Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in 2023.

Against the backdrop of the COP26 climate summit, OVG says the venue has been designed “with sustainability at its core”, and will use electricity for everything from air-source heat pumps for heating and domestic hot water through to cooling and catering, without any gas supply serving the site.

The company adds that the current design achieves over 50% reduction in energy usage compared to a similar arenas, largely due to moving away from using gas boilers. Rooftop solar panels will be used to power day-to-day activity, with green electricity from the grid topping up capacity for events. The avoidance of on-site fuel burning, meanwhile, will significantly improve air quality.

“Climate change is the single largest problem facing the planet today and we take our responsibility in creating a greener world seriously,” says Mark Donnelly, COO, OVG International.

The design will enable a 23% reduction in carbon emissions and, by building electric-based infrastructure from the very beginning, the arena will be on track towards achieving net zero carbon by Manchester City Council’s 2038 target.

We are building a planet-friendly venue as well as one capable of hosting the world’s best events

“In Co-op Live, we are building a planet-friendly venue as well as one capable of hosting the world’s best events,” adds Donnelly. “I’m proud that it’s going to be the UK’s first all-electric arena and we’re also implementing a range of other features including solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and extensive green spaces to make sure it’s the UK’s most sustainable.”

It was confirmed last year that Harry Styles has made an investment in the the 23,500-capacity venue, which will be built on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands.

Co-op Live will be the UK’s biggest arena and is around one year into its build phase. The project will inject £350 million of private investment into the local area.

Similar to how Battersea Power Station has been reinvented in London, OVG predicts that Co-op Live will serve as “an iconic landmark for the transformation and reimagination of post-industrial urban landscapes in the north”, upon completion.

 


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EAA adds arenas in Poland and the UK to membership

The European Arenas Association (EAA) is welcoming two new venues, taking the total membership to 36 arenas across 20 European countries.

Arena Gliwice, one of the largest and most modern sports and entertainment venues in Poland, has joined the association.

The Gliwice-based arena (cap. 17,000) opened in May 2018 and has since hosted more than 460 events in the region.

The purpose-built arena comprises two separate venues, Arena Glowna and Mala Arena, which each boast “cutting edge technology”.

According to newly elected EAA president Olivier Toth, Eastern European members now total almost 20% of the total membership.

ASM Global’s AO Arena in Manchester, UK, is also joining the membership.

At 21,000-capacity, the AO Arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK

At 21,000-capacity, the arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK and the second-highest in Europe.

Toth says the arena will bring “extensive know-how and experience” to the association.

“Also we are looking forward to following their progress as they transform into one of Europe’s most sustainable venues as a result of their current development plans,” he added.

James Allen, GM, AO Arena Manchester, says: “The long period of separation during the global pandemic has highlighted the necessity of collaboration in a supportive manner across Europe, which the EAA champions.

“Our new headline sponsor, AO has strong links with mainland Europe so it is only right that their arena does too. It is a privilege to have our membership application accepted and we look forward to being active members.”

The addition of Arena Gliwice and AO Arena Manchester comes after Spain’s Navarra Arena joined the association last month.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Mark Fletcher, Manchester Pride

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Will Larnach-Jones, MD and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves, here.

 


Mark Fletcher
he/him
CEO, Manchester Pride Ltd
Manchester, UK
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-fletcher-a1890689/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
In 2018, I introduced the black and brown stripes to the rainbow element of the visual identity at Manchester Pride, drawing focus to the marginalisation and levels of racism experienced by LGBTQ+ people of colour. This sparked a global conversation that has highlighted the issues and led to the use of Daniel Quasars’ Progress Pride Flag to represent LGBTQ+ communities, recognising and calling out the added layers of discrimination faced by queer people of colour and trans people.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Always strive to be yourself, your whole self, with no apology.

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Over the years, it’s become clear that some agents don’t quite understand the modern Pride movement, how important it is and what it actually means for their artists. My team and I have had to persist despite being shut down and having doors closed in our face.

“I introduced the black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag…this sparked a global conversation”

More recently, seemingly spurred by the desire of artists to support our cause, we’re finding that our persistence has inspired change. Many are beginning to recognise the important social meaning behind a pride celebration and understanding the difference between our events and commercial music festivals. We’ve seen a positive change in more agents and management teams wanting to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues in order to better support the pride movement and their artists.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Support queer artists and take steps to recognise the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people today.

A cause you support.
The Keychange movement.

“We’ve seen a positive change in more agents and management teams wanting to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Support queer artists and take steps to recognise the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people today.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Right now, I’d really need a crystal ball to answer this question fully. What I can say is that the world has changed, the industry is fractured and it will take a lot of work to get the industry back to the level that we were used to and famed for within the UK.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
I’d like to think that the world was awakened during the pandemic. The industry was not a level playing field. I’d like to see a conscious effort made to encourage greater inclusions across the board and higher levels of respect for differences.

 


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