Access All Areas hosted its first ‘Access Live’ webinar today, 21 October.

The title of the webinar was ‘We did it!’, featuring a number of promoters and event organisers who staged socially distanced events over the summer.

These included Virgin Money Unity Arena creator and SSD Concerts MD Steve Davis, DHP Family central production manager Sam Joynes, 57 Festivals director Will Briggs, Wild Fields festival founder Ben Street and ES Global staging manager Mark Hornbuckle.

Steve Davis and Mark Hornbuckle spoke about the challenges involved in staging the Virgin Money Unity Arena, and how the event evolved from its initial drive-in format to the standing platforms that it became.

Speaking about the event’s sponsorship, Davis said: “From the beginning Virgin Money were on board with the idea, and provided support. The financial investment was obviously important, but we’ve got a really good relationship with them.”

Benjamin Street of Wild Fields festival also spoke about how he launched an outdoor festival for the first time during the pandemic. He said: “It was new to me being a greenfield event, but I could see it was going to work. We’ve been really lucky in Norfolk, we’ve had one of the lowest R rates in the country for Covid-19. We spoke to the council and they were very supportive. I found it quite fun planning out the social distancing measures.”

Sam Joynes  spoke about the run of socially distanced gigs staged by DHP: “The priority wasn’t to make a profit, it was to keep people employed. To give artists a place to perform, to give work to the production crew. The target was to break even. In the end we managed to make a very small profit.”

Will Briggs of 57 Festivals commented on the situation with insurance for events in the Covid era: “We had insurance for everything except a government-wide shutdown. With suppliers we had handshake agreements to roll things over to next year wherever we could. There were still some unknowns. I do hope that going forwards there would be insurance options for any kind of nationwide shutdowns that stop us from operating. But I’d say it’s unlikely to happen.”