Access asks Shambala festival co-founder and Vision: 2025 chair Chris Johnson what the year ahead is likely to hold for the live events industry and its progress with sustainability.

This interview, along with the views of more than a dozen other senior events professionals, is published in the February edition of AAA. Don’t miss it – subscribe here for free.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenges for the industry in 2022, and what measures would you like to see taken to tackle them?

 Cash flow is still the big one for many businesses. Supply chain costs increases are significant, and companies want deposits to secure services and equipment earlier – everything is going up, and for events that rolled over tickets from previous years, I think it could be a huge challenge to bridge the gap. The astronomical cost of covid insurance and its lack of meaningful cover is a concern.

After nearly two years of the pandemic, from an industry perspective do you believe anything positive has come out of it and are we better placed to collectively face challenges as a result?

 The advent of LIVE being formed and proving to be an effective voice for the industry has been really positive and significant. It has also created the architecture to develop meaningful green vision and engage the industry in varied topics in future.

“This is the year when absolutely every organisation has to measure their carbon footprint and get a net zero strategy in place.”

From sustainable solutions to the use of new and emerging technology – what do you believe are the biggest opportunities for the sector in 2022 and subsequent years?

 There is momentum after COP26, and the seeds are truly sown for real action in 2022 with the LIVE Green Vision, Green Code of Conduct, Music Climate PACT, Vision:2025 and Race to Zero all providing frameworks and impetus. This is the year when absolutely every organisation has to measure their carbon footprint and get a net zero strategy in place.

Battery technology and smart energy monitoring systems will be rapidly adopted over the next year or two, accelerated by events looking to save fuel as red diesel fuel duty relief comes to an end in March.

Should the scheduled rise in VAT on ticket prices in March be suspended/cancelled and if so why?

Yes! This year there is some cushioning from CRF funds and reduced VAT rates, which will be vital for cashflow, especially for independent businesses, but many will be selling tickets throughout the year while coping with increased costs and uncertainty. I see 2023 as the watershed in terms of many businesses surviving, and I can see ticket prices going up across the industry in 2023 to adjust, but even with that the industry needs a reduced VAT rate for several years to adjust to real cost changes and maintain vital cultural activity.