Sunday, 15 November 2015

Industry Leaders Join Forces to Enhance Ireland’s Event Management Industry

Event management is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Irish economy, but many event workers lack the practical experience and skills to safely and successfully do their jobs. That’s according to Mark Breen, Co-Founder and Senior Partner at Cuckoo Events, who was speaking at the launch of SideStage, a new conference aimed at enhancing Ireland’s events industry.

SideStage – which is being run by Cuckoo Events – will take place on Thursday, 26th November, at the Draíocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. The free day-long conference will feature contributions from over 70 industry professionals, and is targeted at event management students and people hoping to work in events.

Announcing details of SideStage today, Mark Breen said they decided to organise the conference because of a growing realisation that new workers in events were lacking basic skills and experience.

“Cuckoo runs hundreds of events each year, so we are constantly hiring temporary staff. Many looking for the work can be relatively new to the industry,” he said. “We are often struck by the lack of practical knowledge and skills amongst event workers.

“In an industry like ours, experience and good judgement can determine whether or not the crowd attending an event is safe. So it is really essential that graduates seeking to work in events build up practical skills and knowledge that enable them to make the right judgement calls.”

Mr. Breen said the events industry was becoming increasingly professionalised in Ireland, and praised the work being done by colleges that offer event management courses.

“Event management – as an industry – has undergone huge change in the past 10 years alone,” he said. “In the past, people tended to follow random career paths before ending up in events. Now, colleges across the country are offering excellent event management courses and there is an increasing focus on professionalisation, which is very much to be welcomed.

“While colleges are doing a great job of educating students in the theory of events, however, they often lack the capacity to give students practical experience and skills. In fact, in a recent Higher Education Authority survey, 37 per cent of third-level students felt they weren’t really getting skills and knowledge in their courses that would boost their chance of getting a job.

“SideStage is being organised to address this gap in the events industry. It is very much an industry-wide effort, and all those participating are doing so free of charge. We put out a call for contributors to our peers in the sector a few months back, and the response has been phenomenal. There is a genuine thirst amongst those working in events to help enhance the industry overall.”

Conference Programme Highlights

Highlights of SideStage will include:

· A keynote address by social media experts Darragh Doyle and Ciamh McCrory on social media for events.

· A panel discussion, ‘Go Big or Go Home’, on planning and managing large-scale events, featuring: Shell Holden from the LAYA Healthcare City Spectacular; Mary Weir, Co-Founder of the Event Industry Association of Ireland; Elaine O’Connor, Managing Director of Magnum Events; Martin Cullen, Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Cuckoo Events; and Eoin Conroy, Founder and Director of Titan Marketing.

· A panel with representatives of the statutory agencies most commonly involved in events, including the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local government. This panel will feature Paul Barnes from the Events and Emergency Management Unit of Fingal County Council; Sergeant Neil Crowley of An Garda Síochána; Lynn Daly from Dublin City Council’s Events Unit; and more.

· ‘CV A&E’ sessions, where conference attendees can present their CVs to event professionals for feedback and advice. Industry professionals giving of their time for free to help with these sessions include Paul Davis, CEO of Davis Events Agency; Mark Breen, Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Cuckoo Events; and Martina Quinn, Founder / Director of Alice PR and Events.

· A panel on ‘The Suppliers’ Side’, where suppliers will discuss how they find dealing with event organisers and the common challenges they face. Suppliers participating in this panel include Ann Lowney, Marketing Manager for Eventbrite; Eoin Kernan, Founder / Producer at Slick; Damien ‘Boggler’ Bolger, Owner of Boggler Productions; and more.

· A ‘Just the Job’ panel, where attendees will be able to familiarise themselves with the diversity of job titles and roles that exist in the industry. This panel will feature Joe Clarke, Managing Partner at CWB; Ruth McDonagh, Business Development and Operations Manager, Alive Outside; Niamh Kellett, Co-Founder at Mixtape Marketing; Jonny Davis, Managing Director of Imagine Marketing; and Karen Healy, and expert in creative events.

· A panel, ‘Look At Me Now’, which will feature event professionals who have worked on amazing international events at a young age, professionals who moved to events from other careers later in life and professionals who never studied events in college. Contributors will include John May, Manager, Venue, Transportation, Toronto 2015 PanAm / Parapan American Games; Elaine Fitzsimon, Event Producer, Cuckoo Events; Keith Quinlan, Events and Promotions Manager, UL Students Union; and more.

“We’re hoping to give people who want to work in events the opportunity to pick the brains of established industry professionals in a fun and informal setting,” said Mark Breen. “All of the panel discussions and keynote addresses will be interactive, with questions welcomed from the floor. And, already, we’ve had bookings from event management students from all over the country, with places in high demand.”

Potential of Ireland’s Events Industry
“Because Ireland’s events industry is only becoming professionalised in more recent years, it is still difficult to quantify its exact value and scale,” Mr. Breen continued. “If you look at the UK for comparative purposes, the events industry there employs 530,000 people full-time and generates over £39 billion for the economy in terms of direct spend by event delegates, attendees and organisers. A substantially higher figure is achieved once you take on board the wider economic impact of events.

“The success of initiatives like The Gathering has shown that Ireland’s events industry can be similarly lucrative. In 2013, 5,000 Gathering-related events took place here, generating an additional €170 million in revenue from international tourists. And that doesn’t even touch on the revenue generated by domestic event attendees.

“This industry is growing and improving all the time, and Ireland is consistently building on its reputation as a creative, innovative and welcoming destination for large events. Working collectively in the sector, the more we can do to enhance the events industry, the better for all concerned.”

Further information on SideStage – including on the conference programme and how to register – is available at