Win an Infra-Red Temperature Gun to Help Keep your Events Safe!
So Tony, amid tight restrictions and a burgeoning virtual industry, is there still an appetite for in-person events?
The world needs live events. I’ve been in the industry since 1986 both performing and planning for events all over the world – it’s in my blood. Livelihoods depend on live entertainment and we can’t just sit back and rely on furlough and loans. People been starved of interactive entertainment, and the appetite is bigger than ever. However, a lot of people are worried about safety and rightly so. I wanted to prove an event could be hosted with minimum risk to give our industry hope for the future.
So on 1st August, we pulled out all the stops to throw a 1920s themed musical event at a campsite in East Yorkshire. It was an ambitious undertaking from a health and safety standpoint – individual households were seated in socially distanced squares and ordered food and drink from an app while enjoying the entertainment. The day went down a massive success with attendees and after three weeks, we disposed of everyone’s contact details and were able to report a 100% COVID-free event, paving the way for others.
How much of a challenge was it to satisfy regulators before a license was granted?
Initially the local authority wasn’t interested and came back with things like ‘you can’t play live music for over 30 people – it can only be background music.’ Things like that just didn’t make sense, which I believe was down to mixed messaging from the government, leaving rules open to interpretation.
We argued our case for implementing our own rules above and beyond government guidelines. The complete safety of not just the general public, but staff and crew was paramount. I’ve seen local festivals get away with just telling the public to behave responsibly – that’s not going to work.
Certain protocols must be observed and security has to be extra vigilante because the public must abide by certain rules for their own protection if they want to see events return anytime soon. We were guided at every stage by asking ourselves: ‘would we feel safe if our own friends and family were attending?’ Fortunately, our local authority was impressed with our risk assessments and health and safety documentation and agreed to let our event go ahead.
Tell us about the stringent measures put in place to ensure the event was COVID-secure.
Guests could only book tickets online after agreeing our safety guidelines, so they knew what to expect from the get-go. When guests arrived masked and in their own households, we had performers use infrared guns to check their temperatures. The fact our performers were in character as 1920s gangsters certainly injected some fun!
After sanitising and signing their contact tracing details, security further explained safety risks while checking bags and then passed the group to our performers who made them laugh while escorting them through a one-way system to their own five by five metre grid. We found stakes and ropes were weapons risks and platforms trip hazards, not to mention cost prohibitive – so our white line chalk marking system proved quick, easy and effective and we’ve adapted it for a range of terrains. Once in their grid, groups were free to remove their masks to dance, eat and drink, but required to wear them when leaving to follow the one-way system to the restrooms.
What part did the entertainment play in the event’s success?
The entertainment for this particular event was an immersive 1920s experience. The popularity of Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire and The Great Gatsby mean this will hopefully remain a popular theme for many years to come.
A DJ and compère held the event together while two post-modern jukebox style solo singers along with our own themed band, The Cheaky Blinders, blew the crowd away with popular hits performed in true ‘roaring twenties’ style, complete with glamorous flapper girl dancers.
All guests were able to order food and drink via an app on their phones and the caterers provided a waitress service to grids with wheelbarrows! Character performers were used to make safety fun, using their trademark wit to convey a serious message. Plus, as they were performing walkaround entertainment, they could keep security informed of any issues.
Have you inspired others to emulate your format?
Many attendees enthusiastically took to social media to comment and local newspapers picked up our story as the first post-COVID event of its kind. We have since been inundated with requests for advice since the event, and have a heap of bookings in the pipeline. We are always available for consultation and have already helped a number of businesses in one or all aspects of their event.
We took government guidelines and used our industry knowledge to bolster them, creating a fresh blueprint that can be used by others. The Grid Safety idea was the best option available and one that can be adapted to indoor events across the sector which are struggling terribly at the moment. This could be the lifeline that wedding and corporate event planners are desperately seeking.
What can event planners take from your experience?
The situation is changing daily and the rules are changing with it, but the most important thing is that we don’t become complacent and do use companies that make safety a priority. New technology is becoming available all time, with apps making ordering food, drinks and contact tracing easy. And remember, more security personnel are always needed towards the end of an event when alcohol is involved.
The benefit of working with regular performing, security, safety, AV and crews means we’re all on the same page, reducing risk and increasing efficiency. We have top security and health and safety specialists consulting for us, and our male and female security staff are all ex-police and military, making them true professionals at handling their responsibilities in a safe and friendly manner.
Despite the lift on mass gatherings on 1st October, hosting events won’t be without risk. The most important thing to remember is that if we don’t get this right from the start, everything shuts down and we’re back to square one.
For support with your next event, contact Tony at Cheaky Blinders Grid Safety on 07831 561 012 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Entertainment can be found at Cheakyblinders.co.uk.
To win an infra-red temperature gun to help keep your events safe, simply answer the following question…
From which era does the Cheaky Blinders band take its inspiration?
Enter online at Hospitalityandeventsnorth.com/competition or by post to JLife Ltd, Unit 7, Gemini Business Park, Sheepscar Way, Leeds, LS7 3JB. Please ensure your entry includes your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address. The winner will be the first randomly selected on the closing date: 30th October 2020.
Terms and conditions apply: Maximum one entry per person. When entering the competition online, you have the option to not be entered into H&E North Magazine and Cheaky Blinders Events and Cheaky Blinders Grid Safety’s databases to be contacted about news, promotions and special offers. Postal entry data will not be saved. The winner’s name may be printed in a future edition of H&E North. Publisher’s decision is final.