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Backstage Innovation Centre calls for industry collaboration and innovation to ensure the sector’s recovery ahead of lockdown easing.

A new initiative, launched by Backstage Academy, is calling on the live events industry to build a consortium of stakeholders to assist its recovery.

Following reports in the press that the live events sector will be one of the last to recover, the Backstage Innovation Centre is creating a think tank to investigate innovative and practical approaches to tackling and mitigating the risk of large group gatherings in venues, ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Although the Centre’s £7m+ research and innovation campus isn’t scheduled to launch until 2021, the Academy has brought forward its first research project to help safeguard the industry, and is calling for the sector’s SMEs to come together to collaborate and innovate.

Rachel Nicholson, Head of Backstage Academy, explains: 

"The Backstage Innovation Centre exists to explore and solve contemporary issues within the live events sector and our most pressing challenge currently is working out how we can create 'COVID secure' venues to enable the industry to get back to work and continue providing audiences with world leading entertainment.

We’re looking for the sector’s businesses to get in touch and make full use of our R&D facilities, which include prototyping build spaces, market access, as well as project management and consultant services. Ultimately, we want to bring to life and implement these innovations to ensure the protection and long-term recovery of the industry." 

Central to the think tank’s challenge will be a proactive approach to address potential risks of contagion for crowds in live venues. Following the easing of lockdown, a venue’s primary risks will be controlling and distancing crowds, in addition to the management of the air, surfaces and contact conditions within the building.

The project is looking for SMEs with the following capabilities:

  • Fluid Dynamics
  • M&E Design
  • Air Handling System Manufacturers
  • Control System Experts
  • Crowd Management & Modelling
  • Certification, Assessment and Analysis

The project’s call for interest will be open until Friday 12th June after which the Centre will convene the first project team meeting and set the project timetable in place, which is anticipated to span three months.

Any companies interested in taking part in the initiative should click the link below and complete the registration of interest form:

Lee Brooks, CEO Production Park & Member of the Creative Industries Council, explains why creating 'COVID Secure' venues is a national concern:

"Some might underestimate its importance, but the live events industry is estimated to be worth over £30 billion per year to our economy, and will undoubtedly play a key part in returning some normality to our lives once restrictions are lifted.

However, at present, the industry faces a fundamental threat to its existence, in the form of COVID-19, with the associated measures expected to impact live activities long after the lockdown restrictions are eased.

We need to assure the public that it’s safe to enjoy the unique social experience of live events again and that the sector is confident enough to open up and attract sufficient audience sizes."

The Backstage Innovation Centre is a partnership between Backstage Academy and Wakefield Council that will see the creation of a specialist knowledge and innovation centre focusing on research and development for the live events industry and its supply chain.

Located on campus at Production Park, the £7m+ Backstage Innovation Centre and its specialist equipment will be used to deliver a support programme targeting SMEs across the live events industry, covering specialisms such as music, TV, film, sports, corporate events, theatre and arts. 

The project, which runs from 2019 until 2022, has secured £3,564,852 of grant funding from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Ready to start your Backstage journey?