Liz Madden, director at award-winning staging and temporary structures company NoNonsense Group, calls on suppliers to work more collaboratively and clients to plan further in advance in order to help meet the many challenges presented by the pandemic.

Now is the time for suppliers, crew and clients to collaborate to see how we can better work together to put on events. We have to accept that many talented, experienced and highly skilled crew have left the industry and will not be back. We need to look to the future to see how we can bring new talent into the industry.

This summer our crew were exceptional – they worked so hard – the hours were long and the lack of skilled local crew was apparent, the quality of plant on site was much worse than in previous years and time scales were ridiculously short. We all did what we had to do to make shows happen – this is not something that can continue. We have already started recruiting new team members for 2022 and are giving all our crew a well deserved pay rise in January.

There is a lot of talk about huge tours, stadium shows and new festivals for 2022. We all saw what happened in 2021 when the summer season was condensed into three months; there were many people disappointed as they were unable to secure exactly what they wanted.

“We all know it is not going to go back to the way it was, this is our opportunity to work together to create a better way of working.”

Many suppliers are not in a position to invest in more equipment for 2022. Last year, suppliers delivered shows based on 2019 costs whereas in real time, costs had increased and profit margins were very slim. Accommodation costs had increased hugely, this was mainly due to the nation ‘staycationing’ and hotels were making the most of the demand. Plant hire companies looked to other industries during the pandemic and in 2021, the quality of the kit available was, in some cases, much lower than we had previously experienced. It’s extremely difficult to do a job without the right tools, sometimes it’s just not safe and we all heard stories whereby shows could not go ahead for this very reason.

The cost of raw materials has gone up massively and lead times for deliveries can be months, more than a year for some specific components. These costs need to be passed on and we all have to accept that things are going to be more expensive. Fuel and transport have both featured in the news recently – this has a knock-on effect on what we all do. We have worked hard to build strong relationships with our suppliers and we have managed to get through the last six months with their help and support which is very much appreciated. Looking forward, we are all experiencing the same issues and are working together to get through the next 12 months as it is not going to be easy.

Infrastructure needs to be booked well in advance and deposits paid to secure the kit. This will avoid disappointment and will allow the supply chain time to plan properly in order to be able to deliver on time. As suppliers, we understand that requirements may well change between now and the event, and we will work with you to adapt and accommodate wherever possible.

We are lucky to work with some exceptional clients; they understand the need for advance planning to ensure everyone is able to deliver their part of the show package properly. We all know it is not going to go back to the way it was, this is our opportunity to work together to create a better way of working, to be more aware and accepting of mental health and wellbeing, and of course, to deliver even better experiences for audiences so they continue to support and enjoy live events.

This article was published in the November edition of Access All Areas. Read it here, and/or subscribe for free here