BCU Communications discuss challenges for global live music and events

A panel of professionals drawn from the global live music and events industries will discuss the challenges of working under current Coronavirus restrictions as part of the rollout of a new Birmingham City University student and industry communications initiative.

The Delivering major live events safely in the Covid-age discussion, hosted online by the University from 1330on Monday 30 November, will see speakers responsible for the technical delivery of major events share their experiences from 2020, as well as how to plan for the return of live events in 2021.

The panel, who between them have worked on Dubai’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, Download and Latitude festivals and audio engineered for the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the Greek National Opera, will also be answering questions from students and industry professionals as part of Birmingham City University’s Industrial Mentors scheme.

Led by Dr Roy Priest, Associate Professor and Director of Learning, Teaching and Employability and Academic Lead for the Centre for Digital Media Technology at the University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, Industrial Mentors provides vocation-focussed students on-going opportunities to interact informally with professionals currently working in particular areas related to their course. This offers the opportunity for students to gain confidence in their dealings with industry specialists and enhance their employability.

The original Industrial Mentors scheme was established for students studying BSc Music Technology / BSc Sound Engineering & Production; currently 160 students are able to interact with 50 industry professionals. Similar initiatives have been established for BA Music Industries and BSc Visual Effects, and the scheme is being rolled-out more widely across Birmingham City University. Interest in adopting the communications model has been shown from other UK and US universities, and the team are sharing their experience with interested parties.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Roy Priest said, “Graduates from our Sound courses go on to work in all sectors of the global music and audio industries. Over the years, our alumni have been keen to inspire the next generation of Birmingham City University graduates to enter this exciting and innovative sector through sharing their experience as Industrial Mentors via guest lectures and forum-based discussions with students and academics.

“Many of our graduates working in aspects of live events have really struggled since Covid-related restrictions were introduced and the problems facing this sector are profound. Working within a range of constraints and new limitations, some industry professionals have been able to sustain employment. This event is focused on sharing the experiences of industry professionals and the innovative practices that have allowed live events to continue to reach an audience.”

Dr Roy Priest, Industrial Mentors lead at Birmingham City University

The live music sector and events industry across the UK, Europe and US have been severely impacted by a series of mandatory Government restrictions in efforts to curb the increase in Covid infections, leading to the suspension of events or spaces where groups of people gather. Industry analysts predict that the UK’s music industry’s contribution to the economy may be halved by as much as £3 billion, with tens of thousands of skilled technical and production jobs at risk – a threat which faces the events industry overall.

Panellists John Adkins (CEO, World Class Events, JA Productions Ltd) and Music Technology graduates from the University, James Thurlow (Operations Manager, White Light), Jake Gardner (freelance sound engineer) and Minos Koutedakis (freelance audio engineer, Greek National Opera) will identify ways of delivering productions for hundreds of thousands of attendees whilst observing various Government requirements around social distancing, PPE, mass testing and other pandemic-related considerations.

Speaking ahead of the event, John Adkins, said “The Industrial Mentors program is a fantastic initiative which I am proud to be a part of. After 35 years in the Live Events Industry, I am always looking for ways of sharing knowledge and experiences to assist and encourage the next generation of event professionals.

“Nobody in the event industry has escaped the hugely damaging impact of Covid-19 however we have delivered some limited capacity and virtual events safely and successfully and it’s great to see online training and learning programs flourishing. I believe if we continue to develop, adapt and support each other through these challenging times then together we will be back stronger than ever before.”

John Adkins, World Class Events and JA Productions

Places for the one hour Delivering major live events safely in the Covid-age panel discussion at 1330 on Monday 30 November, can be booked via Eventbrite at https://bit.ly/industrialmentorspaneldiscussion2020.