Exhibition News October 2018 - Page 22

COVER FEATURE 22 THE RIGHT PATH The industry and government – navigating the bureaucratic maze Words: Nicola Macdonald October 2018 | exhibitionnews.co.uk H ere at EN towers we’ve been curious about the relationship between the industry and government for some time. While we’ve naturally been aware of governmental figures popping up at conferences, racing round exhibitions at breakneck speed, and taking to the stage at networking events to espouse their love of the industry, we have a lot of questions. How is our industry – whether that’s exhibitions, business events or even just events full stop – perceived by those in power? Are our needs considered? How are we communicating those needs, and how do we even agree on what they are? These thoughts and more were racing around our heads when a fortuitous email arrived: an invite to an evidence session for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events, looking into the state of the events industry in London and beyond. Not a magazine to look a gift parliamentary session in the mouth, we set off for London to investigate further. In what was an intriguing and occasionally combative series of panels, James Heappey MP, chair of the APPG for Events, along with Lord King of Bridgwater, Barry Sheerman MP, and Chris Davies MP heard evidence from London venues, City Hall (in the absence of an official from the Mayor’s office represented by Tracy Halliwell of London & Partners) and Michael Ellis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). There were several moments of note during the sessions, but for the purposes of this feature two instances in particular stood out. First of all came an exchange between Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London, and Sheerman: Rees: “We’re not getting the support that other cities have from a ministerial and