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PALME Session Special: Lee Charteris

by Tom Norton on Jun 5, 2014

An entertainment veteran of 36 years, Lee Charteris cut his production teeth touring with bands for almost three decades. Now the vice president of operations at FLASH Entertainment, Lee offered some sage advice and insight at his seminar at last month’s PALME exhibition. Here were the highlights...

On: The maturity of the industry
When I first came to the UAE, it was very much a seller’s market - and I think it’s turned around in the last five years to become very much a buyer’s market. There are many more events, many more event companies and there are definitely many more suppliers to choose from.

In 2008 we started Flash, our first big concert was George Michael in Zayed Sports City in Dubai. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I first got here, it was hard work, it seemed to be a bit unruly, a bit Wild West and I can honestly say in the last five years it’s dramatically changed.

Health and Safety is in almost everybody’s mind and I praise all of the suppliers out there for stepping up in that regard. With the maturing of the industry there has been a huge increase in the number of events, there’s a lot more competition and it’s easier to a deal than it ever was five or six years ago.

When I first arrived they were very much about production houses, companies were video, lights, audio – they did absolutely everything. They did staging, they did sound –the lot. There’s been a development in this ‘butcher, baker, candlestick maker’ philosophy in the region, people are now starting to specialise in audio, video, camera and special effects and I see that as a reflection of the evolving industry we’re all part of.

On: Changes in demand
Flash is known for producing a lot of the larger events in the region, and to that end the demands of the artist or performer of the event mean very specific riders, very specific technical equipment and requirements.

This has played its part in the maturing of suppliers too, a lesser known artist will be less rigorous about their demands and what they require to perform, whereas if you produce an event for a band like The Rolling Stones which we did a month or so back, there’s no margin for area or for debate.

I praise all the suppliers again because 85% of the equipment you see at Flash’s shows is sourced from the UAE. We’ve played a big part in trying to promote the use of local equipment in all the contacts we draw up and we categorically state to the artists that we will use local equipment if we can get it, and if not they have to bring it themselves.

But these days there is so much equipment here, often all bands need to turn up with is their guitars and their favourite clothes to wear on stage.

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