In the build up to London’s PLASA08, event organisers were guaranteeing a new and improved show. The verdict from many of the thousands of industry delegates and visitors who attended the event last week was that the show did not disappoint.
This year’s promise of an array of new technologies and applications, plus a dramatically expanded educational programme, helped drive the PLASA Show to its highest-ever attendance record.
Also boosting figures this year was the absence of past year’s diary overlap with IBC, which was a positive move from PLASA organisers that ultimately helped attract major first-time exhibitors to the show, as well as the return of several key audio and lighting manufacturers.
While PLASA08 showcased a host of new technologies it also witnessed the growth in demand for products which push the boundaries, with an expansion in the variety of lighting, video display media, networked audio and data and control systems.
It was encouraging to see the increased investment in PLASA’s educational programmes this year. With a strong focus on industry technologies, a multitude of seminars addressed existing and emerging audio, AV and lighting technologies and their applications, which was hosted by some of the industry's best-known manufacturers and innovators.
A new, but already popular addition to the show this year was the PLASA Masterclass hosted by the winner of last year's inaugural Gottelier Award, Funktion-One co-founder Tony Andrews, who spoke about transient performance.
The major driving force behind the show this year was the issue of sustainability. To further address this issue, presentations were given by London’s Arcola Theatre - the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre, which addressed the implementation and use of energy-efficient lighting; a Theatres Trust-led session on Display Energy Certificates; and a presentation from the team at the National Theatre on its sustainable lighting strategies were also held.
A key presentation addressing the BS8901- the new standard for Sustainable Event Management – showcased the revolutionary British standard that was launched last November in a bid to transform the events industry. The standard seeks to educate the entire events industry on how to conduct its business in a more sustainable manner and to establish a framework of best management practice.
The BS8901 is already attracting major clients, with the London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee referring to it in its tenders. The ambition driving this standard is to see sustainability fully addressed and for adherence to this standard to become the minimum requirement to do business in the global events industry.
Although still in its early days, this standard will surely find its way into the Middle East industry before long, which will not only raise the bar in terms of expectations, but also bring with it new innovative technologies and sustainable building design.
To strengthen its commitment to sustainability, PLASA08 also hosted the official launch of the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre Programme, which aims to cut London’s theatre emissions by 60% and as part of which there was a special exhibition focusing on climate change initiatives.
While many manufacturers reported strong sales and interest throughout the event Midas attracted unprecedented interest for its new PRO6 Live Audio System. Although PLASA 08 marked the first public unveiling of the PRO6, Midas announced that rental companies SSE and Britannia Row had each purchased six PRO6 systems, and more than 100 systems had already been ordered.
Among the successful new product launches at PLASA was an innovative lighting device from The Royal Shakespeare Company, the RSC Lightlock, which was also the recipient of the first ever PLASA Gold Award for Innovation.
More than 65 diverse products were nominated for the Awards for Innovation, from which a panel of independent judges selected seven Silver Awards that went to Goboland, Neutrik, Display LED Screens, Clay Paky, JB-lighting Lichtanlagentechnik, Eilon Engineering and Global Design Solutions.
The Environmental Award was presented to Proteus Display for its new reflective LCD Proteus Display, while the second winner of the prestigious Gottelier Award went to distinguished audio designer, John Stadius, the technical director of Soundtracs/DiGiCo.
Overall, PLASA08 was well promoted and organised, and it directly delivered what the industry wanted to see. It was interesting to note the number of Middle East delegates that were in attendance. Additionally, many were of the opinion that certain Middle East events could take a leaf out of PLASA’s book, which they said could potentially encourage more home-based deals being struck.
With the credit crunch hitting the events industry hard, the Middle East is now well positioned to strengthen its global business ties, which highlights the importance of having well-attended, growing, local and global industry events because ultimately this is where the deals are done. Lets hope, going forward, that the Middle East industry is supported by its own and always given the best platform in which to gain the recognition it deserves.
Kelly Lewis is the editor of Sound & Stage Middle East.