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IFEA COVID-19 Task Force Findings
‘Reimagining the Future in the Midst of Unimaginable Challenges’

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
- Haruki Murakami, writer

2020 has certainly been a year of ‘unexpected’ realities. As global celebrations announced the beginning of a fresh new year, and events around the world prepared for a year of new plans, new opportunities, special anniversary editions, and many ‘2020’ themed marketing campaigns, no one was predicting the now all too familiar COVID-19 pandemic, nor it’s subsequent, ongoing and devastating impact on the global festivals and events industry, worldwide. As well as on so many others.


In many cases we have found ourselves at the epicenter of the ripple effect, while in others we have been caught in the cross-ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic as it impacts countless other valued partners and stakeholders whose support we rely on. In the end, our industry and all those in it, will be changed forever, but we are confident, by working together, that we will all be stronger and better as a result.


To be sure, we have all been going through a Master’s Class that we didn’t sign up for, becoming all too familiar with terminologies and programs that didn’t readily exist in our world or profession before: pandemic; safe distancing; face masks; temperature checks; hand sanitizing; virtual and hybrid events; payroll protection and government relief programs; safe ‘bubbles’; audience ‘pods’; ‘Drive-In Events’; home quarantines; nasal swabs; ventilators; air circulation plans; ‘Super-Spreader’ events; and, of course ‘Zoom’ meetings!


We have also become part of a newly-minted global network of professional peers, friends and alliances that we may not have met, created or been naturally introduced to, under ‘normal’ vs ‘novel’ circumstances. Peers, friends and alliances that are helping us all to get through these challenges and who will make us all stronger on the other end. Peers, friends and alliances that have exponentially expanded our creativity, our capabilities, and our support bases, while also reminding us of the critical and essential importance of our events and industry to every life, community, city, state, province, territory and country, around the world.


Be assured that all of the professionals, volunteers, boards, vendors, sponsors, host cities, et al., who make up our industry - especially under current circumstances - are all essential workers and organizations and community builders. The events that we produce are the legacies, and the brands, and the images of our cities and states and provinces and countries and our world, when we are at our best, and that role will never be non-essential. Making it critical that we work together to find our way, wholly and healthfully, through our current challenges, as the world will need us more than ever before, as we all rebuild and recover together.


In the midst of so much uncertainty and so many unknowns, rather than take a wait-and-see position, the IFEA chose to take a leadership route, with a new focus on the future. While providing access to multiple Covid-19 Forums/Webinars; Virtual Affinity Group networking opportunities; first-hand case studies in our quarterly magazine, ie: the business of international events; global news, coverage of industry reactions and impact, government relief programs, and the ongoing efforts to create a new vaccine that may allow our events to reopen in a pre-pandemic format again, around the world, through our weekly Event Insider; we also reached out and invited some of the top leaders and creative minds in our industry to proactively participate in a unique exercise – the IFEA COVID-19 Task Force - to begin moving us all forward and helping to define new ‘best practices,’ as our previous ones no longer apply. By doing so, it was our hope to unleash new creativity, new conversations, new solutions, and a brighter new future for everyone.

Toward that goal, our Task Force was divided up into five committees, as listed to the right:

These web pages are the result of our important COVID-19 Task Force exercise, but only the beginning of the conversations, that we hope you will all continue to be a part of in the weeks and months ahead. While each committee’s presentations and suggestions don’t necessarily offer any ‘silver bullets’ that will solve all of our challenges, they - more importantly - center around sharing the collaborative conclusions of many of your global peers, arrived at following weeks of committee discussions and research to refocus our visions of the future, both short and long term. Insights from our short, new history, as we deal realistically and creatively with the continually evolving challenges at hand.

Moving forward, we will be scheduling more in-depth conversations and webinars with each of our committees; including new articles in our publications; and continuing these and other important discussions with our virtual brain trusts – including all of you - as our first-hand experience and knowledge base grows.

Note: While some similar approaches have been undertaken by many different industries and even some related event industry niches that currently have some visible light at the end of their own respective tunnels, all of which we can/should use to drive some of our own conversations and conclusions, there has been no such process, before now, by the broader global festivals and events industry.

IFEA COVID-19 Task Forces Include:

RE-PRESENT: The When, Why and How Considerations behind Re-Presenting a Postponed or Cancelled Event

As events of all sizes, budgets and histories are placed in the previously unimagined position of having to postpone and/or cancel those events, due to local, state, regional or national COVID-19 safety restrictions, how do we effectively Re-Present those same events to protect our brands, help drive revenues, protect sponsorship values, support our communities, and/or meet other stakeholder obligations. And, acknowledging likely finite staff and fiscal resources, should we? This committee addressed the important considerations involved in assessing next best steps and selected examples of what seems to be working for others reinventing their own wheel.
VIEW RE-PRESENT FINDINGS
IFEA Member Access Only

RE-OPEN: What Re-Opening Our Events May Look Like and How to Prepare Now for Maximum Success

In the midst of many challenges that we do not yet control, it is important that we do everything possible to proactively lead, drive and map where we are headed. Understanding that the future will include many new expectations, it is important that we start preparing now for when we may be able to reopen our festivals and events. This committee began to define the new expectations that all events can use to overlay with their formally ‘normal’ events, with the goal of reimagining how you might put those expectations into place and prepare for the effects they may have on operational plans, as well as financial and human resources.
VIEW RE-OPEN FINDINGS
IFEA Member Access Only

RE-CONNECT: Partnering with Our Communities & Stakeholders to Ensure Long-Term Success for Everyone

Perhaps one of the most positive outcomes of this global pandemic, has been the (re)opening of doors/conversations with many community stakeholders that we may have lost touch with, or never thought to work in partnership with before. We know what our events contribute to our respective communities and that is usually one of the primary personal drivers/rewards for those in our industry. This committee addressed how our events/organizations might lead the efforts to keep our communities bonded during these difficult times, to ensure the long-term health of all events, and how we might work more closely with our cities, other events and organizations, volunteers, artists and vendors, sponsors, et al. to help all of our communities come through this storm stronger and keep all of our events financially secure and healthy.
VIEW RE-CONNECT FINDINGS
IFEA Member Access Only

RE-IMAGINE: The Future of Events in an Extended and/or Post-Pandemic World

Nothing usually excites event professionals like a blank canvas of change and new possibilities...that we control! If we find that it may realistically be 1 to 3 years before a large, mass-gathering event can safely reopen, this committee explored and researched how we can successfully manage the likely new regulations and hurdles that we will all face as an industry (e.g., safe-distancing, mask requirements, sanitation and other services, temperature checks, limited capacities, et al.) and how we can/might still create/present a new event model(s) that are able to provide the energy, creativity, community participation, sponsor support and activation, etc., that we all desire, while also maintaining financial sustainability.
VIEW RE-IMAGINE FINDINGS
IFEA Member Access Only

RE-STRUCTURE: Protecting the Financial Sustainability of Our Events with an Eye on the Future

The future success of our events will be more important than ever to our communities and world, and to all of our many stakeholders and audiences who value them so much, but first, we must take steps to ensure the short-and-long term financial sustainability of those events and organizations. This committee researched and debated the steps necessary to get us all back to our comfort zones, with an eye on a bright, secure and important future.
VIEW RE-STRUCTURE FINDINGS
IFEA Member Access Only
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