PLASA has reported a 41% increase in visitor numbers compared with 2021, with some calling it the “busiest show in years”. The event took place 4-6 September at London’s Olympia.
“The excitement for PLASA Show this year was undeniable,” enthused PLASA managing director Peter Heath. “Not only did we accommodate several more brands than anticipated, the number of visitors through the door exceeded all expectations. And as I walked around the show, there was a real sense of community and appreciation for our fantastic industry. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s show one to remember – live events and entertainment are back on the map!”
Visitor seniority was high at this year’s event, with 80% in positions with purchasing power. Business owners, directors and chairs were the single biggest visitor group (20%), followed by technicians, programmers, and lighting designers working across venues, rental, and production. In addition, this year saw over double the number of international visitors, signalling the receding influence of the pandemic.
“Well, what an event!” exclaimed Becky Stanton, marketing & systems manager for Prolight Concepts. “““’PLASA Show this year was probably one of the busiest years to date. It’s amazing to think how heavily Covid affected the industry, but that many businesses in the sector have come through the other side and are now back better than ever. Prolight look forward to seeing you next year!”
Matt Wiseman, sales and business development for MDG FOG UK, added: “We were very happy with the turnout. Standing out this year was the quality of visitor we enjoyed speaking with. We’ll be back next year for sure. PLASA Show has proven again to be a top show for MDG.”
The “bustling” show floor played host to a raft of new products making their trade show debuts from across the pro audio, AV, lighting, and staging technology sectors. Many of which were officially launched at PLASA Show.
Headline sponsor Robe launched the iFORTE moving light at the show, with its IP65 capabilities demonstrated in a signature live performance featuring a torrential downpour. Theresa Gibson, head of marketing for Robe UK: “We are proud to continue our longstanding relationship with PLASA as headline sponsor. This year’s PLASA Show delivered three uplifting days of high-calibre visitors, adding to the excitement of the return of our live shows. The buzz, vibrancy and magic of PLASA Show was definitely felt by all that attended and is what makes this show so special.”
Artistic Licence announced its acquisition by Robe at the show, alongside launching its railSplit uno. “PLASA Show 2022 was possibly the busiest show in years,” said Wayne Howell of Artistic Licence. “We anticipated that the Robe acquisition would generate more traffic, but the sheer quantity and quality of visitors surpassed our expectations.”
Three seminar theatres hosted back-to-back sessions across all three days of the show. And with an appetite to succeed in the post-pandemic era of live events, many sessions were standing room only.
Ed Sheeran’s design team presented the most popular panel of the show. In front of a full house, they revealed how they created the singer-songwriter’s ground-breaking Mathematics touring stadium show. Jeremy Lloyd, director for Wonder Works Limited, commented: “I’ve been lucky enough to work on some incredible stadium tours over the years, but Ed Sheeran’s ‘Mathematics’ is definitely one of the most technically challenging projects of my career. So, it was great to share these insights at PLASA Show, alongside Rasti Bartek, Mark Cunniffe and Mike Oates.”
This year also saw the first all-female panel with Sarah Cox of Neutral Human, Sarah Rushton-Read of The Fifth Estate, Lucy Jenkins of Anna Valley, Kira O’Brien of Fray Studio, Pembe Tokluhan of Petok Productions, and Bryony October, sound engineer and tour production manager. Together, they explored career pathways and how barriers to entry can be broken down. Further conversation about attracting and retaining fresh talent was heard in a panel featuring Hannah Eakins and Jas Parekh from Production Futures, Koy Neminathan from Avolites, Amy Kerr from Robe, Ollie Jeffrey from the Royal Albert Hall, and Terry King, programmer, arranger and production manager.
In addition, Women in Live Music (WILM) presented a panel on the physical and mental impact of overworking and how to strike a more balanced work life. Malle Kaas from Women in Live Music, commented: “Our talk ‘The Show Must Go On – But how far should we go’ was extremely exciting with a very lively crowd. Many young women also came by our stand, sharing their stories with us regarding being an upcoming female crew member.”
Sustainability was high on the agenda with carbon-neutral power at the Commonwealth Games, the Theatre Green Book, textiles, and ways to reduce emissions in events and installations. The programme was also stocked with creative and technical achievements, from designing BMW’s HQ to celebrating two decades of TAIT’s live entertainment spectaculars. Sam Woodward, Global Senior Technical Communications Manager for TAIT: “We were delighted to meet industry friends at PLASA Show – a busy witness to the revival of live events, with a noticeable increase in visitors. It was especially good to see our seminar at full capacity.”
Before the show drew to a close, all eyes were on the future of live events with James Simpson, Copper Candle director, exploring the possibilities of the metaverse in his latest Future Tech Live session. Following this popular session, James shared: “As the metaverse continues to evolve, trade shows like PLASA Show will become increasingly important for companies like ours. We are proud to be part of the PLASA community and we are excited about what the future holds for the metaverse.”
Sophie Atkinson, Head of Events for PLASA, concluded: “Building up from our ‘come-back’ 2021 show, we knew expectations were high for 2022. But the feedback is above and beyond what we hoped for. I sincerely hope all our exhibitors enjoy a generous return on investment, and that each visitor found their experience valuable. The PLASA team is already enthusiastically planning and developing the show for next year – and I look forward to seeing many of you there.”
PLASA Show returns to Olympia London from 3-5 September 2023. Register your interest at https://www.plasashow.com/register-interest