2020-2021 has certainly been a couple of years 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: