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SEC goes local with new food strategy

The host of COP26, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, has announced its a new sustainable food strategy which will see it source at least 80% of produce from within Scotland and only use reusable or recyclable packaging by 2023.

The renewed approach has been developed over the past two years with its official catering and hospitality partner Levy UK + I, the sports, and hospitality division of Compass Group UK and Ireland. All produce will be sourced from high-welfare producers with sustainable agriculture processes.

As part of the new food strategy, SEC will champion high quality, environmentally friendly local suppliers in areas such as fruit and vegetables, meat and bread. The food and drink offering at the landmark Glasgow venue will offer a broader range of plant-based options alongside premium and low-impact, local animal protein sources.

“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change.”

The venue is also making strides in the fight against food waste and aims to have reduced kitchen wastage to under 1% of food purchases by 2025 or sooner. Food waste will continue to be diverted from landfill to anaerobic digestion processing.

SEC donates surplus non-perishable food to local charity Launch Foods. In 2020, SEC donated around 10,000 food items to the charity who distribute it through local community organisations and schools.

Debbie McWilliams, Director of Live Entertainment at SEC, said: “Our new food strategy is an integral part of our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of events that take place on our Campus.

“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change. We are proud to have a strong and ambitious strategy in place to help us champion the very best of sustainably sourced Scottish produce on the international stage.”

The new food strategy has been implemented ahead of SEC hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place from 1–12 November 2021.

 


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IPM 13: If I Could Turn Back Time: Stage production, design and decor

The second panel of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) began with Coralie Berael, venue manager of Belgium’s Forest National, reflecting on the changing nature of stage production. As both venues and production get bigger, Berael posed the question: Where do we go from here?

From the design side, Mark Ager, managing director of the UK arm of Tait, explained that the main challenge is taking creative content and making it into a reality for touring, adding that it all works best when there is coordination between the artistic, technical and logistical processes.

Production manager Wob Roberts stressed the importance of having final designs as early as possible, to makes the rehearsal period “an efficient machine” and bring down costs.

“The best circumstance is to have a clear idea what a show looks like before going on sale, but that’s idealistic,” said James Walker of the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), explaining that a venue’s role in the chain is not always as valued as it could be. “We need better links with production managers,” said Walker.

Roberts gave the example of a Genesis tour which went on sale before the design came in, leaving insufficient room for the stage. “We had to be really creative to fit into the capacity that had been sold,” said Roberts. “I learned to talk to management as much as possible to avoid similar situations in future.”

Does the audience really require all this production, if tours can sell out before the design has even been done, asked Berael. Roberts explained that the audience has certain levels of expectation for some stadium artists like U2 and Rolling Stones, but not so much for others. However, “the ego can kick in” on the artists’ side, with acts wanting as big a show as their counterparts, “and that’s when the problems start”.

Walker said it would be hard to draw audiences in for a second time without spectacular sets, while Ager stressed the importance of fan engagement, which is challenging in a stadium without big production. “Scale can sometimes outperform the the actors,” said Ager. “The more people you put in front of an artist, the more money they make, so our challenge is how to engage the maximum number of people.”

“You’re actually touring a prototype – and that can go wrong,”

IPM day host Meagan Walker, general manager of Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena asked when is enough, enough? “The bigger we [venues] get, the bigger the show and production gets,” she said.

The panellists also broached the difficulties of loading into certain venues, with local councils imposing restrictions and buying up land around arenas in many city centres. “We need to work together and communicate very early on to avoid the stresses on the day itself,” said Berael.

Is there anything at the design level that can be changed to ease logistics? “We are always trying to minimise building time and think about loading,” said Ager. “But the artist is always going to want to push it further, and I’m not sure how to stop this.”

Ager stated it’s important to remember they venues are often a “tryout” for the shows themselves, but this is changing with many using places like Production Park to test production out.

“You’re actually touring a prototype – and that can go wrong,” reiterated Roberts, saying that it is key for venues to come and look at the production beforehand to pinpoint potential problems and discuss solutions with the production manager.

The issue of liability was also raised, with Roberts stating that it is difficult to get house riggers to sign off on the work they have done. Walker explained that there is a large amount of liability with venues anyway, so there is a degree of nervousness to accept more.

The panel ended with a talk on sustainability. Roberts said that, although he is “unsure whether you can call what we do sustainable”, the entertainment industry is a “great testing ground” for green initiatives.


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SFX Entertainment founder Robert Sillerman dies, 71

Robert FX Sillerman, the founder of SFX Entertainment, died of respiratory illness on Sunday (24 November), at the age of 71,  Billboard confirmed.

Sillerman first founded concert promoter SFX Entertainment in the 1990s, paving the way for the modern-day consolidation of the business by acquiring promotion companies including Delsener/Slater Enterprises, Sunshine Promotions, Bill Graham Presents, Cellar Door Concerts and Avalon Attractions.

The original iteration of SFX was sold to Clear Channel in 2000 for US$4.4 billion, and later spun off to become what is now known as Live Nation.

In 2012, Sillerman refounded the company as an electronic dance music (EDM) festival promoter, rolling up promoters including React Presents in the US and ID&T, Made Events and Alda Events in Europe, as well as Florida-based venue operator MMG Nightlife in the US.

SFX 2.0 filed for bankruptcy in early 2016, rebranding as LiveStyle under the leadership of Randy Phillips later that year.

Following SFX’s demise, Sillerman was embroiled in a number of lawsuits. In July, he paid $179,000 to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in a fraud case relating to his post-SFX online publishing business Function(x).

 


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Ticketmaster launches accessible tickets online

Ticketmaster has launched online tickets sales for disabled fans in the UK, allowing customers to buy accessible tickets online for the first time.

Ticketmaster’s online booking validation process allows fans with accessibility requirements to purchase the correct tickets easily. Customers who make an online accessible order are asked to submit their requirements, such as a seat for a personal assistant, a wheelchair-accessible space or access to the best location to view sign language interpretation, via their Ticketmaster account. All information will be saved for future purchases.

The system will be rolled out for upcoming events as Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) venues, which include the 13,000-capacity SSE Hydro, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.

“At Ticketmaster we believe equal access to live entertainment is paramount,” comments Ticketmaster UK managing director Andrew Parsons.

“We knew we had to do more for disabled fans and our team has worked hard on this ground-breaking technology that endeavours to make ticket buying simple for all. Every fan should have the same access to the events they love, it’s an ongoing process and one we continue to prioritise.”

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets”

A recent survey compiled by music accessibility charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) found that 83% of disabled gig-goers have been deterred from buying tickets due to inaccessible booking systems. Many reported paying extra to be able to buy a ticket online, or having no option to purchase online at all.

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of the charity, says she is “delighted” that accessible tickets are now available online.

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets,” says Bull. “In designing their new service, Ticketmaster has worked closely with us and our Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition to achieve the five steps to inclusive ticketing that we set out in our February 2018 State of Access report. We wish them every success.”

The new system will roll out across more events, venues and countries in the near future.

Motorpoint Arena Cardiff and Ticketmaster UK were among nominees for AIE’s Outstanding Attitude Awards this year.

 


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Hologram USA hits back amid fraud allegations

Hologram USA and its CEO Alki David have announced that they intend to “vigorously fight” allegations of fraud and registration violations made by the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC complaint alleges that Hologram USA presented “false and misleading” information to investors on its website, in relation to its “exclusive” rights to present holographic performances of artists including Tupac Shakur, Whitney Houston and Roy Orbison.

The complaint also claims the company misled investors regarding the existence of a Hologram USA theatre network, which was said to include the Landmark Theater in Indianapolis, the Civic Theater in New Orleans, the Saratoga Casino in New York and the Twin River Casino in Rhode Island.

Additionally, the SEC states that Hologram USA drew investors to its website through a TV commercial advertising the sale of unregistered stock.

“Through a nationwide television commercial and internet campaign that hyped Hologram’s purportedly imminent public offering, defendants knowingly or recklessly disseminated materially false and misleading statements to promote these unregistered offerings to prospective investors,” writes the SEC.

“I’m glad they sued and I’m going to countersue”

According to the SEC, David sold US$100,000 worth of unregistered shares between December 2017 and March 2018 ahead of an aborted initial public offering (IPO). The company had sought approval from the SEC to sell the stock but started soliciting buyers and selling unregistered securities to investors – “many of whom were not accredited” – before receiving the go ahead.

In March 2018, the SEC began enquiring about the unregistered offerings and Hologram USA started to refund investors. By April, all but $26,000 had been returned, according to the complaint.

“I’m glad they sued and I’m going to countersue,” says David in response to the complaint, which he terms as “bullshit”.

“I spent $80 million of my own money to build my company and take it public,” continues David. “I hired the best people and did everything by the book, working closely with NASDAQ. Twice, the SEC has targeted me and blocked my efforts to create hundreds of jobs as I advance the hologram industry. And now this. They’ve picked the wrong guy to fish for some settlement with. I’m not going to take it.”

 


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Robert Sillerman fined $179,000 for investment fraud

Robert Sillerman has been charged with fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has ordered the former SFX Entertainment CEO to pay a fine of US$179,000, as well as barring him permanently from serving as the director or officer of a business.

The SEC’s complaint, filed on 28 June, relates Sillerman’s post-SFX online publishing business, Function(x), which was quietly wound up last year after Sillerman was forced into bankruptcy by a creditor, Chicago promoter React Presents, which was owed $10 million in acquisition costs.

SFX filed for bankruptcy in February 2016 with debts of almost half a billion dollars, run up in a bid to rapidly consolidate the dance music sector (aping the roll-up of rock promoters in the early 2000s by the original SFX – now Live Nation).

Function(x) – an online news outfit specialising in clickable ‘viral’ content – ran into trouble in 2017, furloughed three quarters of its employees that September after finding itself unable to pay their wages. The lay-offs came after the company was delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange after failing to meet the deadline for filing its quarterly report, and amid reports of unauthorised withdrawals to Sillerman from the company’s bank accounts.

Following the collapse of Function(x), the SEC (h/t Billboard) has charged Sillerman with “orchestrating an offering fraud” and “diverting offering proceeds to repay loans he had previously made to the company”.

The complaint elaborates: “Function(x), Inc., formerly an online publishing and entertainment business, incurred significant losses during the first quarter of 2017. To raise capital and fund its operations, Function(x) completed a public securities offering in February 2017, which brought in $4.8 million from investors. The complaint alleges that Sillerman fraudulently diverted $500,000 of the offering proceeds to repay certain loans he had made to Function(x).

“To induce investments in this offering, Sillerman falsely claimed that two celebrities had agreed to invest in the company”

“Then, in April and May 2017, Sillerman allegedly led efforts to raise additional money for Function(x) through a private securities offering. The SEC’s complaint alleges that to induce investments in this offering, Sillerman falsely claimed that two celebrities had agreed to invest in the company.

“The SEC further alleges that Sillerman created phony [sic] subscription documents, with forged signatures, purportedly from the two celebrities. Function(x) publicly announced that the offering had raised $10 million, which would be used for working capital and corporate expansion.

“In reality, however, the complaint alleges that Function(x) raised only half that amount and that Sillerman diverted all of the proceeds to his personal bank accounts, as further repayment of loans he had made to Function(x). Throughout his fraudulent scheme, Sillerman also allegedly ignored Function(x)’s internal accounting controls and failed to obtain approval to use offering proceeds to repay his loans.”

According to the SEC, Sillerman has agreed to pay the fine, as well as to a permanent “director-and-office bar”, pursuant to the resolution of his ongoing bankruptcy process.

The commission opened its investigation into Function(x) in November 2018, after the company was struck off the securities register for failing to file financial reports.

 


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SEC makes new live entertainment appointments

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Glasgow has announced today two new live entertainment appointments in the areas of ticketing and programming.

Julie Carson has been promoted to head of ticketing, taking responsibility for maximising ticketing delivery across the SEC, which comprises the SSE Hydro (13,000-cap.), SEC Armadillo (3,000-cap.) and SEC Centre (13,000-cap.).

In another internal move, James Graham becomes the new head of live entertainment programming and will be responsible for driving content to optimise sales profitability across live aspects of the business.

“The success of live entertainment presents an opportunity to acknowledge team members who have contributed significantly to the growth and delivery in this sector”

The announcement follows the appointments of Debbie McWilliams as director as live entertainment at SEC on 1 March, and of John Watson to the SEC board on March 18.

“The success of live entertainment presents an opportunity to acknowledge team members who have contributed significantly to the growth and delivery in this sector,” says Mcwilliams.

“I am delighted that James and Julie’s dedication to this area of the business has been recognised and that they have accepted these well-deserved promotions”.

McWilliams told IQ‘s European Arena Yearbook 2018 that “arena business continues to be buoyant in Glasgow”, with SEC’s SSE Hydro finishing the year at number four in the Pollstar arena rankings and taking the top spot on Billboard’s list.

The Hydro celebrated its fifth anniversary in September and renewed its partnership with AEG’s venue management division, AEG Facilities, in October. Hugh Jackman, Michael Bublé, Westlife, Kiss and Ariana Grande are among the artists performing at the Hydro in coming months.

 


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SEC appoints John Watson as new board member

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) has announced a new addition to its board, with the appointment of John Watson as a non-executive director.

Watson is an operating principal for global infrastructure partners (GIP), working with a number of the fund’s investments and is chief executive of Crosswind Development, the sister company of Edinburgh airport.

Prior to joining GIP, Watson was managing director of Lloyds Banking Group’s US$50 billion small- or medium-sized enterprises lending portfolio during the banking liquidity crisis. He was also a founding board director of the Business Growth Fund plc.

Watson is a trustee of Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation, a non-executive director of the Institute of Directors and a member of the the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland governing council.

“John brings with him a wealth of experience across the financial markets and infrastructure investment which will be invaluable as we look to secure funding for a major expansion of our facilities”

“John brings with him a wealth of experience across the financial markets and infrastructure investment which will be invaluable as we look to secure funding for a major expansion of our facilities with the vision to create a unique global event campus,” says SEC chairman Will Whitehorn.

Speaking of his appointment, Watson comments: “The SEC is a world renowned and important facility for both Glasgow and Scotland generating significant economic benefit. I’m delighted to be joining such a brilliant team with a great track record of delivery and I look forward to working with them to further grow their success.”

SEC recently promoted Debbie McWilliams to director of live entertainment.

 


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Debbie McWilliams appointed director of SEC Glasgow

Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) has promoted Debbie McWilliams to director of live entertainment, effective immediately.

McWilliams, who was previously head of live entertainment and ticketing at the SEC (formerly the Scottish Exibition and Conference Centre, or SECC), will be responsible for overall management, commercial delivery, event booking and content creation at Scotland’s largest entertainment centre, which also includes the AEG-run SSE Hydro arena (13,000-cap.).

Peter Duthie, the SEC’s chief executive, says: “We are delighted that Debbie has accepted the position of director of live entertainment. Debbie has been instrumental in the growth and success of the live entertainment sector of our business.

“Debbie has been instrumental in the growth and success of the live entertainment sector of our business”

“She played an integral role in the delivery of Scotland’s largest music venue, the SSE Hydro, in 2013. Debbie’s extensive knowledge, experience and proven track record across all aspects of live entertainment will be invaluable to the role.“

“I am excited to be taking up this new position and honoured to be given the opportunity to play a part in the future of live entertainment at the SEC,” comments McWilliams. “Live entertainment is a sector which is challenging, but also very rewarding, and I look forward to working with the team to build on the incredible success that that we have achieved to date.”

The Hydro celebrated the fifth anniversary of its opening last September, with more than 5 million people having attended an event in that time.

 


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Hydro celebrates five remarkable years

The jewel in Glasgow’s crown, the SSE Hydro, celebrates its fifth birthday this month having surpassed all expectations since the £125 million (€139m) arena opened with a concert by local hero Rod Stewart in 2013.

By the time the fifth anniversary rolls around on 30 September, the 13,000-capacity venue will have hosted 639 event performances, welcoming more than 5.2 million visitors through its doors – equivalent to the entire population of Scotland.

Those numbers have consistently seen the Hydro rank among the top five venues globally, but management of the arena are keen not to rest on their laurels and have revealed ambitious expansion plans for the Scottish Event Campus, where the Hydro sits alongside the 3,000-cap. Armadillo (which was also designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners), and the adjoining SEC Centre exhibition halls, which have a combined capacity of about 22,000.

In July, the SEC applied for planning permission for a £150 million (€167m) scheme that would see the construction of new conference suites and a significant extension of its exhibition space. “The new conference facility would allow us to stage two events simultaneously, or large conferences on a scale that we currently can’t offer,” explains SEC chief executive Peter Duthie. “We believe our expansion project will provide a significant economic impact, not just to Glasgow and Scotland, but to the UK.”

“Five years, over five million people through the doors, the SSE Hydro has exceeded all expectations”

Those plans are likely to receive a sympathetic hearing from Glasgow’s local authority, as the impact the Hydro has had on the city, and Scotland as a whole, is exceptional. Since the building opened, the nearby area of Finnieston has been gentrified to cater for people making their way to concerts and other SEC events, and no fewer than 48 new bars and restaurants have opened as a result of “the Hydro effect”, leading to Finnieston winning the crown for hippest area in the UK, according to the Times.

Additionally, the local area has more than 1,000 hotel rooms within a five-minute walk of the Hydro, with more hotel projects due to begin construction on the arena’s doorstep.

SEC’s head of live entertainment, Debbie McWilliams, says: “Five years, over five million people through the doors, the SSE Hydro has exceeded all expectations. It stands as a beacon of city partnership and the people of Glasgow have responded by making it consistently one of the busiest arenas in the world.

“The success of the SSE Hydro has made an impact, not just to Finnieston, but to Glasgow’s wider economy – we’re firmly placed now as a world-class venue.”

 


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