As we head into the holiday season and look to gather with friends and family, we stopped to think about how celebrations have needed to adapt throughout the pandemic. Our Events and Experience Manager, Michelle Stewart, talked us through how the events industry has innovated in response to changing conditions and found ways to continue to serve the community in an engaging and supportive way.
How has the pandemic impacted the events and experience space?
The pandemic has had both negative and positive impacts on the events industry. On one hand, it has had a domino effect on suppliers to the industry and the artists who bring soul to our events. However, it has also accelerated the next evolution of events. Before, we imagined a slow transition to digital and online events, but the pandemic has accelerated this technological shift and demonstrated that the future is now.
What has been the biggest challenge?
I would say the digital learning curve has been the biggest challenge. Attending an event often puts people into new or unknown situations and a good event aims to ease that tension. Now that we are asking people to use technologies, software and platforms they may have never heard of before, we are pushing our audiences well outside their comfort zone. Managing that challenge, while balancing the experience for those who are more comfortable in the digital space, is a tricky line to walk.
How have we adapted?
I think SMCT did a great job of shifting events to an online platform in the past two years. Many of our events are annual traditions for our community and being able to offer something familiar and meaningful, albeit different, was a great way to connect with our community during challenging times and a demonstration of our solidarity and support.
As we begin to open again, we are striving to find new ways to welcome our community back on-site in a way they feel comfortable. The recent All Souls Day reflection space at SBC
is a great example of this. We worked with the community and a team from right across the organisation to understand what was truly important to the community. The result was an inspired design by the Horticulture and Infrastructure teams, driven by insights from our Strategic Engagement team to create a peaceful outdoor memorial that honoured Christian and Catholic traditions in a COVID-safe environment.