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Thu 9 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Come together, right now

With calls for an industry mandate on live event safety regulations in the GCC growing louder by the month, industry stakeholders have an unprecedented opportunity to play a key role in their development and head-off the overbearing involvement of third-party (read government) entities.

With calls for an industry mandate on live event safety regulations in the GCC growing louder by the month, industry stakeholders have an unprecedented opportunity to play a key role in their development and head-off the overbearing involvement of third-party (read government) entities.

The benefits of stakeholder involvement are obvious: safety regulations created for the industry by those who are intimately aware of the key issues involved and face them on a near-daily basis.

The weight of historical evidence suggests that when government regulators get involved, bureaucracy takes over.

In the UK, live event safety regulations have become so cumbersome that many live event operators steer clear of organising certain events, arguing that the financial and logistical burdens associated with meeting key regulatory requirements often outweigh the potential benefits generated by their involvement.

The issue is not the stringent occupational health and safety (OH&S) standards imposed to protect live event personnel; it is the manner in which they’ve been implemented, altered and sullied by third-party interests and debased by the rigid – and dare I say it – head-in-the-clouds approach of the UK government to policy management.

Funnily enough, there could not be any more disparate markets than the UK and those in the Gulf region in regards to commercial policy formulation and implementation.

As an industry, we must strive to strike a balance between overbearing government intervention and self-regulation.

The latter has proven a particularly useless approach in this market, evidenced by the at-best token attempts of unnamed operators to ensuring the safety of their own personnel and the paying public. Their token displays make a mockery of the sincere efforts made by many other commercial organisations operating in this region to upholding OH&S guidelines.

The GCC presents its own unique challenges to live event managers. From dealing with often extreme climatic conditions to abiding by conservative local customs, they must be mindful of issues which their colleagues in Western markets would rarely consider let alone face.

This makes it even more important for local players to work together to formulate policies relevant to their own operational sphere and not leave their fate in the hands of those with little interest or otherwise in the industry’s long-term prosperity.

Aaron Greenwood is the senior group editor of ITP Business’ media & broadcast tiles.

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