The East of England Arena and Events Centre (EEAEC) is working hard to assist event organisers by co-locating events, shows and festivals in order to satisfy the huge demand for event space in the second half of the year.

Dean Rees, business development manager at EEAEC, says that the venue is doing all it can to lessen the impact of COVID-19.

He explained: “In order to try and ensure tenancies in the latter half of 2020 for as many shows as possible, we’re trying to find colocation opportunities, where events and exhibitions may be able to share audiences, resources and costs.”

For example, the Cambridge Rock Festival and Festival of Antiques are to be co-located. Both shows have an older demographic. Rees argues that both organisers could co-promote each other’s events.

“We’re trying to get organisers to work together,” Rees added. “We’re finding some plausible candidates here, and that’s just at our one venue. We’re having to do this because of the circumstances that we find ourselves but we’re a large venue and having more than one event on our site will not have any negative impact. As long as the signage is right.”

According to Rees, so far, organisers are reacting well to the changes taking place at the venue and are agreeing to co-locate with organisers.

“We’re ahead of the curve,” said Rees. “We put in contingency plans a month ago and we’ve been proactive rather than reactive. Everyone accepts that we are in uncharted territory. We’re managing the best way we can.”

He continued: “I imagine a national picture would reveal many more colocation opportunities. I would like to see an ‘event speed dating’ resource and encourage organisers to consider events already booked in for the latter half of the year, and see whether they would have synergy with events being cancelled now. By sharing costs, and with audiences likely to be diminished from 2019, colocation could be the answer to dozens of possible cancellations.”

Rees would like to see industry build a calendar of available venue dates and a database of organisers/shows that are willing to co-locate. Venues would be able to post available slots and organisers could indicate that they would be happy to share space with an event that would complement theirs.

He said: “I believe that an independent, trusted broker, such as a trade association or similar, could make a colossal difference to the outcomes for many venues, by maintaining a simple list of events that would rather postpone and move venue than cancel altogether. Rather than every venue trying to postpone its own events to later in the year, and finding it impossible, venues should pool their capacity to find space for shows that would otherwise be cancelled. The East of England Arena would avidly back any idea like this.

“No one is interested in seeing shows cancel,” Rees commented. “Industry should agree a standard fixed agreement for 12 months where no one gains.”

Rees concluded: “For now we are liaising closely with all our organisers in an effort to postpone, rather than cancel events, and maintaining communication with our customers, suppliers and stakeholders, asking for their forbearance and alerting them what to expect over the next few months. The damage to the event industry is going to be severe. It is up to us to limit the damage as much as we can, not only to ‘primary’ event businesses but also to the legions of small businesses upon which they depend. We must do it collectively so that the whole industry can pull itself up by its bootstraps when this crisis eventually shows signs of coming to an end. Until then we need to be united, creative and flexible.”