As an industry, we should know better. Steve Heap, general secretary of the AFO, talks production

I get to a lot of festivals, showcases, and concerts and it still bugs me that production values in our industry are often not what they should be. I am not saying I always get it right, there are one or two occasions I can think of where my productions have not been up to standard but at least I have recognised it and done something about it.

At several events I attended in the 2017 season, the production was really just not up to it. You can often tell who is running an event when the backstage facilities are immaculate and the production facilities are top notch.

Where it often slips is when the organiser of the event is from a publicity/marketing background or likes to focus on audience facilities. It is then that the focus on production sometimes slips. And it is not just in the festival world, this happens in conferences where the “welcome” is not heard because the PA engineer hasn’t noticed that the chairman has stood up to do the welcome.

At a recent industry exhibition, I was interested in a short seminar with a panel of four including a chairman. However, on arrival, the setting was in an area with lots of background noise from trade stands and a disco robot. Immediately the chairman welcomed everyone from what looked like an uncomfortable position. The PA started feeding back, the radio mics didn’t work and the four professionals on stage ended up sharing hand held mics. Feedback continued and I am sure the content of the seminar was of interest and quality, but I only lasted five minutes.

Same place, second session, it happened again! This was supposed to be a showcase to the world of how the UK events industry sells itself. The production quality on this occasion was amateurish.

The whole business of public-facing events by the events industry, in my opinion, needs a bit of a shake up and if anyone wants to join in I would be happy to sit around a coffee and have a chat. No PA, no stage, no agenda other than to share our experiences and present ourselves better.