‘The Road Beyond Reclosure’ Discussed at British Councils’ Festival Connections

Business Events | January 24, 2022 | News

British Council Arts and Culture Resources India Art X Company Deepak Choudhary

As a part of the British Council’s annual Festival Connections series in partnership with Arts and Culture Resources India, an online panel discussion with industry stalwarts on ‘The road beyond reclosure: Omicron and the events and experiential industry’ was organised on 20 January 2022.

The session explored the themes of uncertainty, sustenance, survival and safety in the events sector amidst the third wave of Covid19 and beyond.

Rashmi Dhanwani, Founder and CEO, Art X Company, was moderator. Speakers included Deepak Choudhary, Founder and Director, EVENTFAQS Media and Event Capital; Malavika Banerjee, Director, Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, Bhubaneswar Literary Meet, Jharkhand Literary Meet, Co-founder, Gameplan; Roshan Abbas, Founder - Encompass, Co-founder - Kommune, President - EEMA; and Tom Sweet, Music Programme Manager, British Council.

Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council began the session with a presentation on the kinds of projects and support the Council lends to the sector, and its assessment of the next steps for organisers, businesses and audiences.

Shedding light on the immediate plan of action for festivals, Roshan Abbas said, “As people who are part of the industry we have sent out petitions to possibly every state. We have seen movement in some of the states like Madhya Pradesh, Himachal, West Bengal and Uttarakhand. But festivals largely take place in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru where we have been unofficially told that by mid-February things should start opening since this variant has been a little milder. As EEMA, we have reached out to the finance ministry and tourism. But there’s definitely a good shot for us in the long run.”

On the safety protocols of the future, Deepak Choudhary said, “We need to stop thinking Covid protocols mandated by government and start living out the new normal for life, as well as events. In this new normal, you put the safety of each guest, supplier, artiste, staff and other stakeholders first. Every plan will have a safety layer built into it and there should be no scope of error or compromise.”

“Setting the bar for safety proactively and beyond the mandate of duty will help the industry gain the confidence of governments even in the event of future clampdowns on live events,” Choudhary added.

On how the UK’s festival sector remained resilient and what has been lost, Tom Sweet said, “In the UK, when pandemic first broke out everything was hit very quickly. The live event is a big scene in the UK. It’s worth 70 billion a year with over 700,000 people as employees, so it’s a significant sector contributing to the economy. The department of culture and sports contributed to the cultural recovery fund which is a 2-billion-pound fund to help organisations adapt and reshape through the pandemic that launched in 2020 in several rounds. Also, last summer (2021) the government announced a scheme ‘Festivals Insurance’ to support the festival sector which would protect the events that signed up from September 2021 to September 2022 against full cancellation because of government regulations. This gave hope to the people to go ahead and plan.”

The panel discussion was streamed live on the Art X Youtube channel.

The event explored themes of uncertainty, sustenance, survival and safety in the events sector amidst the third wave of Covid19 and beyond.

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