The Road to Recovery for the Events Industry: Op-Ed from Orlando Newton

C A V E A T



Please note this article was composed BEFORE the Entertainment summit hastily gathered by Government for yesterdayTuesday 15th December

Like most businesses in Barbados, those of us in the events sector were hoping that the worst of the pandemic was behind us and the finish line was in sight. We were eagerly awaiting the return of in-person events, designing events in response to the new normal with the guiding protocols set by public health officials and new cross sectoral partnerships as we all tried to regroup for the sake of employees and consumers, patrons and contractors of services. Sadly, the finishing line was or should we say is a sliding mark, with every milestone in the last two years moving the finishing line, further and further away from reality, as the spikes in COVID cases and even more contagious variants created heightened anxiety and a fear throughout Barbados.

We are now approaching two years since the start of this pandemic. The fall out has been insurmountable. There really isn’t anyone who can say they haven’t been affected by this pandemic; we have been impacted financially, psychologically or socially.

Admittedly, out of all, the events industry in particular has been hardest hit, with livelihoods decimated, employers, employees, direct and indirect service providers, their families. So the question is, where do we go from here? What are some of the critical decisions that must be taken? How much longer are we going to ‘wait out’ this pandemic? Is normal ever going to be the normal of 2019 and are we ready to take on the new frontier? Scientists are stating that we must now learn to live with Covid as it is expected to be with us for many years but what does that really mean for a society that clings to the old ways in a literal and figurative sense?

With the stage set, we are faced with the stark reality that we must quit the stalling, waiting for it to end and an all-encompassing cure, we must simply get on with it. Design the new normal. We must work to protect our most vulnerable, but we must start to rekindle our domestic economy which largely benefits from the social marketplace; public, private and corporate events and other sporting activities; those that provide employment and stimulated economic activity in multiple local sectors; complementary and not so complementary. You must admit, if you think about it, our local marketplace before we looked strongly externally for economic stability, was a major factor in the local circulation of money, that is the local formal and informal economy, a source of primary and secondary income.

For the last 18 months, the entertainment industry has not sat waiting for handouts, we have been proactive in researching innovative ways to deliver events within the new normal.

For the last 18 months, the entertainment industry has not sat waiting for handouts, we have been proactive in researching innovative ways to deliver events within the new normal.

Caribbean inspired events have been transposed in diaspora metropolitan areas; Industry professionals have been in discussions with new suppliers as we plan for what is the inevitable return to in-person life in 2022. Many event producers have shared their anxiety and frustrations and have reported feeling burned out with the wait with no end, and the hope of the regeneration of our businesses to be able to provide once again gainful and consistent employment opportunity for our unemployed and under employed staff and the up-and-coming student cohorts from the BCC, UWI and the SJPPI. But we are resilient businesspeople, you saw and joined in a number of online events and fora that were organized during the pandemic, is just a drop in the hat. Technical tradespeople, artistes and vendors are understandably anxious to get back to work.

Orlando Newton is a Consultant for Regional Cross Cultural Management. The Executive Producer of Nouvelle Vie Inc is also the CEO of TicketPal Caribbean. Mr Newton has also been a Judge for the Canadian Awards & Marlin Gospel Music Awards, with 35 years experience in International Entertainment Industry

Orlando Newton is a Consultant for Regional Cross Cultural Management. The Executive Producer of Nouvelle Vie Inc is also the CEO of TicketPal Caribbean.
Mr Newton has also been a Judge for the Canadian Awards & Marlin Gospel Music Awards, with 35 years experience in International Entertainment Industry

Recovery in the events industry will be a marathon not a sprint but it can be a 5K and not a 10K, if the stakeholders and Government work together. Let us take that courageous step forward together to recovery. This sector is resourceful, creative and resilient. All we need is the confidence to be allowed to take the first step. In the words of Nelson Mandela “Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it”.

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