A National Events Strategy would be a Box Office hit for the UK
The UK’s Film and TV industry is valued by the UK Government, and UKEVENTS Chair, Chris Skeith OBE, suggests the country could benefit if similar incentives were offered to the events sector.
By Chris Skeith OBE, Chair, UKEVENTS
OPINION: As we forge ahead, UKEVENTS’ primary focus is on fostering a co-ordinated approach to events right across the country. We want to ensure a populated calendar in the places where events are needed for the national good. Our sector, across all its disciplines (such as indoor and outdoor, business or leisure events), has traditionally relied on market forces to dictate our course of action, such as where we take events, as much as when and why. Now, though, we must look at a national strategy and plan events for when we need them, not just when the markets demand.
We cannot rely on serendipity as we have done in 2023 to bring attention and visitors to our shores. The Coronation of King Charles III and the hosting of Eurovision were wonderful occasions in their own rights, but they could just have easily not happened, they certainly won’t be annual calendar mainstays. Across business, science, technology, healthcare, culture, music, entertainment, and sport, we have the means to enrich the lives of everyone.
It’s time to proactively stimulate event organisers, promotors, venues, the vast supply chain, and Local Authorities to create a robust and sustainable industry.
That leads us to the question of what specific support might we need to deliver this strategy and, thankfully, we need not look far.
The Film and TV Industry, which is effectively our cousin, has been afforded a range of measures to turbocharge its output, clearly deemed of value by the UK Government. This includes tax incentives, known as the Film and High-End TV Tax Relief scheme, to encourage production companies to choose the UK as their filming location. This scheme offers financial support to qualifying productions, making the UK an attractive destination for film and TV projects. These tax credits have been extended to other creative sectors, such as video gaming and theatre.
Further backing has been allocated through the Regional Growth Fund to support regional screen industries. This funding has helped develop local infrastructure, improve skills and training, and attract productions to various regions across the UK, promoting geographical spread and economic growth.
Organisations such as the British Film Commission and the British Film Institute receive government support to promote the UK as a premier filming destination and assist international productions in navigating the local industry. These entities offer guidance, financial incentives, and logistical support to attract and facilitate film and TV projects in the UK. While we as an events sector enjoy similar support from the likes of VisitBritain and the devolved bodies, a firmer, cross-industry approach could be implemented. Indeed, VisitBritain is looking at how events can be used to stimulate a stronger visitor economy.
The UK Government established a £20 million Film Infrastructure Fund to support the development of new film studios and facilities across the UK. This initiative aims to enhance the country’s production capabilities, attract international projects, and create more employment opportunities within the industry. Where the events sector is already ahead in this area is that, arguably, we already have a strong infrastructure with high-quality venues dispersed over the country.
However, any support must be targeted towards an appropriate stage of the event lifecycle. As any organiser or promoter will testify, the start-up cost of a new event is usually the biggest challenge, but by the third year should generally be a stronger commercial proposition. Ensuring funding enters the cycle at the early stages would make a big difference in creating the right content for the right places. This would enable more event start-ups to become permanent features in the programming and content of both the tourism calendar and the economic wellbeing of communities across the country.
As we lay out our plans for the future, it’s crucial to reference the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) report on the TV and Film support scheme, which you can read here. It highlights the positive impact of government support on the creative industry, promoting economic growth and entrepreneurship.
We need to convince HM Treasury that fostering an entrepreneurial spirit within the events industry will yield similar results. By working with us to devise and implement a national plan with the necessary support, we can create an environment where innovation and creativity flourish, benefitting both our industry, the wider economy, and people of Great Britain.
UKEVENTS is the recognised and collective voice of our world leading events industry, which represents every part of a diverse, creative and dynamic sector across the whole of the UK and champions the economic, societal and transformational value of events. UKEVENTS’, formerly the Business Visits and Events Partnership’s (BVEP), role is to support the work of our partners to help create a strong and growing events industry.
The industry comprises many diverse and individual sectors, covering meetings, conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, incentive travel, event hospitality, ceremonies, sporting, cultural, outdoor and festivals as well as other services provided by the wider supply chain. Partners UKEVENTS exists to represent the interests of its partners, their members and the wider UK events industry.