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15 Oct 2014

Engaging PLASA Show Breaks New Ground

PLASA London 2014 welcomed visitors and exhibitors to ExCeL, London for the second consecutive year on 5-8 October and impressed with a ground-breaking show floor, an inspiring education programme and a host of important announcements. While exhibitors revealed their latest product innovations, the organisers uncovered plans for the future of the show.

Speaking at the PLASA Awards for Innovation and Sustainability 2014, held on the penultimate day of the show, PLASA's CEO Matthew Griffiths revealed some of the changes for 2015, which will redevelop the scope and delivery of the event. Under the leadership of Christopher Toulmin, PLASA's Director of the Events Division the show is being remodelled to become a PLASA Member focused event which includes moving from four-days to three-days, introducing a new floor plan concept, expanding the education offer and investing in the audio, staging, AV and broadcast elements of the live entertainment technology at the show to accompany the phenomenally successful lighting element.

Reflecting on PLASA London 2014 and looking forward to next year's show, Event Director James Ashwood, said: "PLASA events has a new team, with a new vision for evolving and developing the PLASA show for the benefit of its exhibiting members. We are at the start of this exciting journey, and moving ahead with confidence, this has been reflected in the 80% rebook onsite for 2015."

"The overall number of attendees for the show was just over 11,000, putting us slightly ahead of 2013, with a surprise increase of 55% in the number of re-visits to the show, demonstrating that people have been returning on more than one day."

One of the talking points throughout this year's show was the Robe Arena – a 1,000 square metre stand, which created a huge, immersive space adjacent to the main show floor. The lighting manufacturer's decision to 'go big' and try something completely different as a one-off, centred on its 20th anniversary celebrations and on providing a showcase for the launch of the new BMFL Spot lighting fixture.

Managing Director of Robe UK, Mick Hannaford, said: "The biggest problem we have is this is a one-off. This is our 20th anniversary, we have a big product to launch but the space itself has worked so well. As opposed to being huddled up, like we normally are because we always have a busy stand, we've been able to have more meaningful conversations. It's worked really well. It's going to be very difficult to come back from this. We've done this now and it's going to be very difficult to ever do anything much less than this - it's been so successful. Whatever the extra money we spent was, it has been worth it."

Exhibitors spoke about being happy with the number of good quality visitors they were seeing and with the number of business-related conversations they were having. Clay Paky's Chief Operational Officer, Pio Nahum, said: "In general, the attendance has been very good and we had the perfect showcase for our new products, so I think it has definitely been a good exhibition. From our viewpoint, we are here in this corner and we have a lot of people all the time because of our presentation, so our stand has been crowded all the time. The quality of the visitors has been very good. We had a very good attendance of visitors, especially from the UK and also some visitors from abroad, from international markets. We're on the same level as last year, which is about 20% of our visitors have been international."

Shure Distribution UK's Managing Director, Peter James, commented: "In the last four or five years we've been very specific about our objective – why we're here and who we expect to talk to – and we align all our activities and our communication to the model of who we see the visitor demographic being and it hasn't let us down yet. The show's been great. I believe it's delivered on what we expected this year, as it has every other year."

On being Silver Sponsor, Peter added: "It's nice to have that alignment with the show. I think it's good for us. We get to talk to the right people and that allows us to achieve what we want to achieve. It's been a good show."

Mercedes Stevao-Boase, Marketing and PR at Green Hippo, said: "AC Technologies, where we were based, has a great stand space. It's been really busy, lots of overseas visitors, particularly from Asia to Eastern Europe." Karl Christmas, Sales & Marketing Manager at Yamaha UK & Ireland, commented: "Having not been at PLASA since it left Earls Court, it was great to return. The Audio Village atmosphere is very conducive to business." Andy Clements, Business Development Manager at Raycom, revealed: "This is our first year at PLASA. We've met some interesting clients from the live sound market, a sector we're keen to increase our presence in. We were told PLASA was the right place to be to help that happen, and it's proving to be true."

The Professional Development Programme benefitted from two new positions, adjoined to the main floor. Both the Audio and AV Theatre and the Lighting and Stage Theatre saw a huge range of seminar content, capturing imaginations and drawing in large audiences. More than 2,000 people attended the Professional Development Programme's sessions, indicating how important education is to the event and highlighting why PLASA plans to expand the program in 2015. Session highlights included 'Pin the Mic on the Actor' from the Association of Sound Designers, Martin Professional's sessions on 'The Use of Intelligent Lighting in TV' and the 'Technology of Theatre Lighting', Avolites Media's 'Convergence of Video and Lighting – Whatever Next?' and Rockart Design's session about 'Making the Eurovision Set Come to Life'.

Soulsound hosted seven sessions, which were extremely engaging and very well attended. Company founder, Darryn de la Soul, said: "PLASA's commitment to professional development through inspiring content has paid off. We've welcomed large numbers of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, to some incredible Soulsound sessions. I'd like to thank everyone who attended. My gratitude goes out to all the session leaders who contributed their time and knowledge – you've been amazing."

The fifth annual Rigging Conference, which ran alongside PLASA London 2014 on Monday 6 October, thrived in its new one-day format. More than 160 delegates attended, representing an increase in attendance of 15% on last year. Attendees came from 18 different countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the US. International visitors made up 30% of the audience, indicating that the PLASA Rigging Conference is the global meeting point for the rigging community.

Programme Curator, Chris Higgs, said: "This year's conference allowed delegates to contribute to the formation of an international rigging code of practice and discuss the likely impact the CDM 2015 regulations will have on the industry."

"As our keynote speaker, Bill Sapsis spoke about why we do what we do, making it humorous as well as thought-provoking. Structural engineer Abigail Matthews made a good case for using our common sense in a presentation that generated lengthy discussion safety. A session concerning the integrity of the objects we are asked to suspend, presented by Alan Bartlett of the RSC, was well received and we were privileged to have Bill Dudley, a theatre designer with seven Olivier awards to his credit as one of 17 panellists who helped make the 2014 conference the success it was. I'd like to extend my thanks to PLASA Events and to Unusual Rigging for making it all possible. All in all a great turnout and very satisfying to see delegates from so many different sectors of the industry. One of the high points for me is finding that delegates share interest in the content I have programmed."

PLASA London 2014 thanks its sponsors: Platinum Sponsor Robe, Gold Sponsor Clay Paky and Silver Sponsor Shure Distribution UK.

The show returns to ExCeL London on 5-7 October 2015.


For further information please contact:

Christopher Toulmin
PLASA Events Ltd, Earls Court Exhibition Centre Warwick Road, London SW5 9TA, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)207 370 8667 : Email: chris.toulmin@plasa.org

Notes to Editors:

PLASA is the lead professional body for businesses that supply technologies and services to the event, entertainment and installation industries. Operating from offices in Europe and North America, the Association provides business support services to its growing worldwide membership, writes industry standards, leads the development of qualifications and focuses on improving the business practices adopted by the industry. With over 1100 members worldwide, it represents one of the largest member networks in the industry.

PLASA also runs successful media and events divisions and is responsible for the industry-leading magazines Lighting&Sound International, Lighting&Sound America and Protocol and the PLASA Show in London, together with the European and North American regional PLASA Focus events.

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