Workshop: Production catch up
Hosts: Carl A H Martin, Intellitix (UK) & Meagan Walker, Rod Laver Arena (AU)
Carl A H Martin, organiser of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), sat down with Rod Laver Arena’s Meagan Walker to give delegates an update on the world of production, as discussed at the previous day’s IPM.
The difficulties thrown up by working in emerging markets formed the subject of IPM’s first panel, with it often proving difficult to obtain trained, local crews. Malaysia was noted as having developed comprehensive training courses for production crews.
Saudi Arabia was offered as an example of a massively developing market. “They’ve seen the opportunities in Saudi and have gone out and bought the expertise,” said Martin, adding that customs can be a “problem” when working there. “If you’re doing work in these areas, you need to be aware of this.”
A skill shortage in rigging around the world also came up as a serious issue facing the sector, a problem exacerbated by the ever-increasing scale of production.
The implications of bigger production was discussed in detail at IPM. Walker said venues often invest in upgrading their roof capacity to cater to larger shows, just to be made obsolete as bigger shows comes along, asking: are productions going to continue to get bigger and bigger?
Communication is key between the production and creative teams, she said. Another main takeaway was that venues don’t always receive information on shows and go on sale without production info, so need to continue to hold seats. Sending venue operations, if possible, to travel to see production beforehand and develop a relationship with the touring production manager is an advantage.
Production notes on the day touched on changes to trucking technology, with the industry preparing to run more environmentally in the future. Meanwhile, Martin presented a workshop on Martyn’s Law, a proposed piece of legislation looking to implement anti-terror security measures in venues, following the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.
A “very positive” panel on small venues, looked at the issues facing venues with capacities ranging from 150 to 5,000. Some of the problems are very similar to those encountered by big venues, said Walker, it was interesting to see that the owners of smaller spaces do say no to shows - due to legislation, licensing and/or space and resource limitations.
“[Small venues] do get ignored,” said Martin, who hoped more sessions will look at small venues in future. “We need to ensure the grass-roots venues do survive and strive,” agreed Walker.
The last session looked at production-related show cancellations and the issues thrown up by coronavirus (Covid-19). Weather, including the recent Australian bushfires and ensuing floods, were discussed. “We were hit hard in Australia, but are still open for business,” said Walker.
Conversation moved on to the coronavirus, which is causing cancellations and delays to on-sales. The panel concluded that, financially, the virus is going to hit the sector quite hard, as it’s looking like insurance is not going to cover events in the case of cancellations.
"We need to stop worrying and get on with life,” said Martin.