By Caitlin McElhone, CM Events and ALEC Committee Member
Like never before in history, the Covid-19 Pandemic completely devastated the meeting and live events industry overnight not just here in Alberta, but across Canada and the world. Jobs were lost, venues closed, supplies shut down and musicians and entertainers left with no stages to perform on. Something needed to be done to ensure our industry could access much needed
Government subsidies, funding and grants to keep the lights but to also educate Government on who Event Professionals are and how safe in-person events were still possible during this time. That’s where The Alberta Live Coalition (ALEC) comes in.
Who is ALEC?
The Alberta Live Events Coalition (ALEC) began as a task force on March 20, 2020 to discuss best practices for staging live events in a safe manner. We have developed a set of best practices and guidelines, and are advocating for the event industry with municipal and provincial Government officials to ensure they understand that event professionals can both produce live events in a safe manner and are a major contributor to the economy.
Even as restrictions start to (finally!) lift, there is still much work to be done to continue the push to have the meetings and live events industry recognized as a ‘real’ profession in the eyes of the Government (both Provincially and Nationally) with the goal of being included under a Ministry with travel, tourism and hospitality. This will help ensure we are well represented in the future, when hard-hitting crises occur.
Did you Know?
In Canada, live events stimulate 1/3 of tourism activity, sustain approx. 229,000 direct jobs, and generate $33B in direct spending each year, with $19B contributing to Canada’s annual GDP — That’s roughly $4.4B in economic revenue from live events to the Alberta economy each year.
One single event in Alberta can provide work for hundreds of people and normally thousands of events take place annually in the province providing full time work for the many people who
are employed by the events industry.
Live Events are not simply an important driver of our local and national economies. They provide creative outlets, emotional connection, and mental/ spiritual health that cannot be measured statistically. This mental well-being of our communities is a fundamentally necessary foundation for the productivity and success of our society.
Goals of ALEC:
The main goal of the Alberta Live Events Coalition was to bring the events industry in Alberta together under one voice to advocate for our industry and work alongside Government and Alberta Health Services on how to open events safety during the pandemic.
Over the last 15 months, the four goals below have always been top of mind for ALEC:
1) To continue to receive financial support as businesses and individuals of the live event community.
2) To advocate and establish best practices for holding safe live events in Alberta; allowing restrictions to be lifted on gathering sizes.
3) To get ‘event professionals’ recognized as a major contributing industry to the economy, trained in logistics, risk management and safety.
4) Be the place that event professionals can come to for clear and correct information during COVID-19
Our messaging has remained consistent throughout:
Live events are not the same as mass gatherings. They are not uncontrolled like a shopping mall, a big box store, or a weekend gathering of friends. Professionally managed events, in a controlled environment and with adherence to reasonable guidelines, present one of the safest environments for people to meet face-to-face. We don’t want to open our industry unsafely. But we do want to be able to run professionally managed events in controlled & safe environments.
So, what has ALEC Accomplished for the Live Event Industry?
• Countless hours meeting with all levels of Government (UCP and NDP) and Alberta Health Services representatives to make our voice heard, share the devastation of our industry and look for ways to work together to move forward to opening.
• Countless letters written to City Mayors, Councillors, MLA’s, The Premier, The Opposition, MP’s and AHS officials
• Countless hours building relationships with the Minister of Culture, JEI and Tourism to encourage working together to move forward,
• Successfully pushed to keep grants, subsidies, loans and funding for small businesses open and available for as long as possible for Event Professionals to access
• Written three relaunch documents (on the ALEC website) that were requested by and shared with Government and AHS numerous times
• Collected case study examples (in October 2020) from Event Professionals showcasing the extensive safety measures, risk management planning and attention to detail event planners in
Alberta were executing for their events to be safe during a pandemic.
• Two successful private Townhall virtual events (February 2021 and April 2021) with the Minister of Health and Minister of JEI
• Numerous press releases, interviews and articles sharing our industry’s hardships and calls-to-action for the Government
• Dedicated website and Facebook page for ALEC where industry professionals could turn to for current list of restrictions, updates on grants and funding and a place to ask and get answers to your questions about inconsistencies, exemptions and other issues arising this year
• Getting Government to replace the word ‘event’ at the daily 3:30 update with ‘gathering’ to attempt to separate professionally run events and private get togethers.
What can industry professionals can do now?
As the promise for restrictions lifting by summer comes closer to reality, our industry is seeing the light at the end of tunnel for the first time since March 2020. So, what is left for our industry to do?
Continue to take risk management and guest safety seriously even as restrictions lift. Continue to learn and develop your professional skills with industry courses, seminars and more! Join an industry association (like, ILEA, MPI, PCMA, CanSPEP and others) to build relationships and community with industry peers. Continue to speak up and educate those around
you on who and what an Event Professional is and the importance we bring to each event. Let’s make it known that Event Professionals are A REAL PROFESSION and the work we do matters for our clients, bosses, organizations, guests, communities, cities and the economy. We are back!
So let’s never be in the background of an event again. We have been in the shadows for decades, this has hurt us as we have witnessed over the past 15 months.
List of ALEC Main Committee Members
• Lesley Plumley, LP Events & ALEC Founder
•Mike Anderson, Trixstar
• Josh Burnett, FM Systems & Fourforty Backline
• Tamara Jones, Weddings by Tamara
• Caitlin McElhone, CM Events
•Suzan McEvoy, Photo’s with Finesse
• Wes Scott, EventWorx Corporation
• Niesa Silzer, Details, Conventions & Event Management
• Sol Zia, Calgary Hotel Association
And to the countless other Event Professionals from all over the Province who have supported ALEC initiatives, assisted with writing re-launch documents, done media interviews and shared our industry story through social media. THANK YOU!