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Two new books that explore the ways in which events are constructed within social, cultural and political environments have been published by a Leeds Beckett lecturer.
Dr Ian Lamond, Senior Lecturer in Events, in partnership with Karl Spracklen, Professor of Leisure Studies in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University, and Dr Louise Platt, Senior Lecturer in Festivals and Events Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, bring together new theoretical understanding and applied research from around the world, cutting across sociology, leisure studies, politics and cultural studies, to bring new critical teaching and theory of the study and analysis of events.
Critical Event Studies by Professor Spracklen and Dr Lamond (published by Routledge), and Critical Event Studies: Approaches to Research, edited by Dr Lamond and Dr Platt (published by Palgrave), will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students on events management and the wider social sciences, as well as scholars interested in understanding the ways in which events are constructed within their social, cultural and political context.
Speaking about his collaboration with Professor Spracklen, Dr Lamond said: “Our book is the result of the happy coincidences that bring frustrated academics together. Degree programmes within the field tend to focus on operational considerations associated with the project management of delivering a range of events - Critical Event Studies is our attempt to introduce to events management the same kind of interdisciplinary, socio-cultural critical thinking that has transformed leisure studies.”
Deemed the first research book to deal explicitly with the concept of critical event studies (CES) – the idea that it is impossible to explore and understand events without understanding the wider social, cultural and political contexts of those events – Critical Event Studies addresses questions such as can the use of specific spaces by activists be understood as events within its framework? And is the activity of activists in these spaces a leisure activity?
Dr Lamond added: “If those, and other similar activities, can be read as events and leisure, what does admitting them into the scope of events management and leisure studies mean for our understanding of them and how the study of events management is to be conceptualised?”
Working collaboratively with Dr Platt and contributing international scholars, Critical Event Studies: Approaches to Research is the first book to consider the wide variety of research approaches being used by academics world-wide whose interests lie within CES.
Dr Lamond said: “The primary purpose of this book is to firmly ground CES as a significant part of the future for research and teaching, at all levels, within the field of Event Studies and Events Management.
“At present, methodological discussion within event studies is often dominated by the changing demands for refinement of methods suitable for event evaluation. That dominance is a symptom of a neo-liberal economic agenda that seeks to de-politicise and, to some extent, de-culturate many events into ‘Western’-influenced entertainment. Whilst we agree that there is a vital need for robust empirical event evaluation (which, itself, needs to go beyond the current limitations of approaches that are dominated by a common assumption that event assessments are fundamentally economic impact assessments in various forms of disguise), that domination restricts the range of research philosophies and theoretical frameworks available to scholars. By presenting researchers with a richer range of approaches, insightfully discussed by peers who are trying to develop techniques appropriate to this emerging field, this book works as a signpost to a wider array of tools than are presented within the field as it has previously been construed.”
Dr Lamond is currently working on a new project: Britain’s got the X Factor: Reflections on the 2015 UK General Election and the 2016 EU Referendum (yet to be approved and published by Palgrave). He explained: “A general election is a defining event within the democratic life of the UK, this year has also seen a relatively new creature enter our democratic landscape – the national referendum. CES is particularly interested in the discourses exposed as a result of such events.
“Rather than considering how, in a democratic state, those in power communicate and circulate their messages, this book will consider how the media itself articulates democracy, and the vital public debate that is central to its health and vitality, as spectacle. In doing so, this work adds a fresh dimension to political sociology, political communications, and journalism studies – opening up new trajectories for research, and new insights for those interested in engaging in informed debate around the state of democracy in Britain today.”
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Glenn Bowdin and Jackie Mulligan of the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) presented to members of the UK chapter of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) on Friday 12 February at the ICCA Winter Debate as part of celebrations marking 20 years of events management education at Leeds Beckett University.
The duo focused the presentation on challenging preconceived ideas associated with events management education and showcasing the 20 years of work undertaken by UKCEM to connect industry with research and professional development, engage students in a wide variety of events experiences and assessments, and nurture talent with some impressive examples of graduate achievements.
Five Events Management students were also invited to attend the prestigious event which brought industry leaders together to discuss and debate issues under the theme of Increasing Sales Through Risk. ICCA represents the main specialists in organising, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, with over 950 member companies and organisations in 88 countries worldwide.
One of the students, Olivia Wright-Lewis, a second year on her placement within the UKCEM’s own Event Support Service, was delighted to attend the event. Ahead of the debate, she said: “I feel very privileged to be attending such a high profile industry event. I’m most looking forward to learning more about conventions especially as the event is being held in the city where I live, work and study. Also it will be a great opportunity for me to meet and network with key industry professionals.”
Joining Olivia at the event were final year Events Management undergraduates James Guerin, Yi Khang Lim, Charlotte Noel and Emelia Smalley.
Glenn Bowdin, Head of the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM), added: “The presentation and our students demonstrate the vital role universities play in supporting industry by inspiring new generations of students and nurturing talent so that they can go on to achieve and bring benefits to this dynamic sector.”
Next month, celebrations continue as the UKCEM will be partnering with George P Johnson on Thursday 3 March to deliver #FutureEventProfs - a conference for students from across the UK, and The Big Conversation, an event designed to bring academia and industry together to discuss ways to enhance the talent and knowledge needed to support the events industry.
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A new book by a Leeds Beckett University music industry expert and festival consultant is set to be celebrated at a launch party event at White Cloth Gallery in Leeds on Friday 12 February.
Dr Robinson’s new book charts the history and ongoing development of the contemporary festival scene. She explained: “The spread of UK music festivals has exploded since 2000. Gone are the days of a handful of formulaic, large events dominating the marketplace. Across the country, hundreds of ‘boutique’ gatherings have popped up, drawing hundreds of thousands of festival-goers into the fields. In my new book I address why this has happened and what has led to this change.
“The scene has changed in that the content at festivals has become much more diverse and the expectation of festivalgoers has changed too. This isn't all about expecting better food and cleaner toilets. It's about wanting opportunities to engage creatively, to make an imprint however big or small on the festival canvas. From costume to art to imaginative theming, festivals that have understood the need to innovate beyond the music - Secret Garden Party, Lost Village, BoomTown, Shambala, Kendal Calling - have cultivated loyal followings. This doesn't mean that the 'headliners model' of Leeds Festival or T in the Park is outdated: just that the festivals market has evolved to accommodate some very contrasting ideas about what a festival is, and indeed what it should be.
“There are many factors contributing to this; but the shift can also be viewed as a natural progression. Since the late 1960s the British countryside has been the ultimate petri dish for festival culture. The increase in the number of festivals has naturally prompted a kind of creative arms race, driving promoters to add values and think well beyond the format of bands on a stage.”
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An event which will explore the future of events management education is to be held as part of the UK’s leading and longest standing event for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry.
The UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) at Leeds Beckett University are launching The Big Conversation at International Confex on Thursday 3 March as part of its celebrations of 20 years of events management education in the UK. The initiative aims to bring industry and academia together to visualise what will be needed in terms of skills, knowledge and education in the next 20 years.
With support from partners, George P Johnson, the Big Conversation will see the Apex Room at Olympia transformed into a parliamentary-style setting where industry leaders from companies including Ashfield Meetings and Events, Zibrant, Grass Roots, First Protocol, graduates working at companies including Blitz Communications, UBM, students and leading academics from across the UK, will debate and shape a new manifesto for how both industry and academia can nurture the talent, skills and knowledge that industry will need in the long term.
Jackie Mulligan, Principal Lecturer and Director of Enterprise at the UK Centre for Events Management at Leeds Beckett University, believes the Big Conversation will encourage a fresh perspective: “After 20 years of events management education, The Big Conversation will change the focus from 'why do we have events management degrees?' to 'what next for events management education, knowledge, skills and talent for both universities and industry?"
Future-focused quick-fire presentations, a Buffet BrainJam and idea trees will form part of the event to aid interactive idea generation for all participants that will inform the high level discussions that aim to shape the start of a manifesto for educators and industry.
Event professionals from across the UK have been keen to join forces with the initiative, Paul Cook, Past President of MPI UK and Founder of Planet Planit, explained: “It is great to see so many industry professionals keen to support the building of a new manifesto for events management education to enhance the events industry as a whole. For too long there have been divisive discussions about education and experience, when the real opportunity is for everyone to work together to create a better place for everyone bringing their talents to the events industry.”
Spaces are limited but students are being invited to register now to join The Big Conversation at http://bit.ly/ukcembigconversation
In January the UKCEM was announced as the official University Educational Partner for International Confex. The agreement will see events management education brought to the fore as the Leeds Beckett centre celebrates 20 years of events management education in the UK.
Through the partnership, the Leeds Beckett University UKCEM graduate-led Event Support Services team will deliver a half-day student conference on the second day of the show (3 March); produced by students for students.
International Confex takes place 2-3 March 2016 at Olympia London.
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Leeds Beckett University’s UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) becomes the inaugural Centre of Excellence. To achieve this it had to adhere to strict criteria as well as produce an evidence pack showcasing achievements and expertise. The process also required a commitment to the promotion of careers and research in association events of the future.
The recognition comes ahead of a year in which Leeds Beckett’s UKCEM will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Rhodri Thomas, Professor of Tourism & Events Policy at Leeds Beckett said: “It is an honour for the University to be recognised as a Centre of Excellence by ABPCO. It is especially welcome with the celebrations for our 20th anniversary about to get underway. This is a key milestone, not only for the University but for the meetings and event professionals of the future.”
Leeds Beckett University was the first university centre in the UK, and among the first in the world, to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in event management. It remains the largest dedicated centre of its kind in the UK.
“We were delighted to recognise Leeds Beckett University as a Centre of Excellence,” said Nicole Leida, joint-chair of ABPCO. “The University is well known for its graduates winning awards regularly and enjoying fulfilling careers in the industry, so it’s clearly a fantastic learning environment for young professionals. Our relationship with Leeds Beckett continues to go from strength to strength and we look forward to stepping up that partnership over the course of the next year.”
Professor Thomas will receive a certificate and plaque in honour of the Centre of Excellence status at the upcoming ABPCO AGM to be held at the ICC Birmingham on Friday 5 February.
ABPCO is the UK’s leading organisation for professional conference and event organisers, industry associates and those studying for, or seeking a career, in the conference and meetings industry.