Susan Tanner, CEO of the National Outdoor Events Association, holds up a light during the industry black out.


As I write, we’re about to enter the period that we at NOEA have called ‘going dark’. This is when pretty much everyone in our community disappears off the face of the planet (or at least they are widely dispersed across outdoor events around the country and beyond). We lose contact with them for at least the next 12 weeks, and for many a lot longer. Sure, we get the odd hastily written text, and from time to time some calls for help amongst members, but other than that we find its best to leave them alone.

That’s not to say there is no contact from NOEA over the next few months, many of our members will be working hand in hand at some of the most iconic events on the planet. This is when NOEA takes its theory and puts it into practice. It’s a great time for everyone, its achingly busy and often challenging, but this is what we live for.

So, this column is very much a rallying cry for our industry as we ‘go dark’, but also as we go and put into place our expertise, as part of the support structures that allow these great events to be truly great.

We say it a lot, but it is because of NOEA members that these festivals can be so visual, creative and memorable; we are the companies and the individuals who build the infrastructures, design the ticketing systems, implement the health and safety, even supply the car fleets that mean the acts, artists and players can do what they do best, safely and securely.

At NOEA, we also work incredibly closely with the UK government, to get both support and recognition for this industry of ours. We do this as part of a wider group of event professionals who represent events as diverse as festivals to exhibitions, conferences to sporting events. To gain support we need to capture the imagination first, and then show our talents.

What always makes me proud is that these conversations always start with the outdoor events. We show them festivals of music and culture, global sporting occasions, but also local community events. We show them main stages and stadiums as well as village greens. We then show them the people and organisations that make these events happen, and the expertise that is now being exported around the world, so great is are our own standards here in the UK. It’s not a difficult sell!

So, I hope as our members grab some precious down time during and after the events they are working on this summer, that they can do so with the pride that the world is once again watching us, and our industry, and seeing a best-in-class group of people do what they do incredibly well. They can then look at the millions of spectators and audience members who will have unforgettable experiences across the UK and bask in the satisfactory glow that only this industry can give. It’s hard, but its why we do what we do.