PLASA’s blue riband event returns to West London this September when the new format show occupies Olympia from the 18th to 20th. In its 39th year and according to its governing body, the show ‘... will deliver a renewed proposition, providing an exhibition solution more suited to current industry needs...with live demo opportunities for the audio and lighting sectors, plus product shoot-outs, technical workshops and training sessions, networking sessions, conferences, topical seminars...’.
Although the total number of pro-audio shows globally is now somewhat less than in previous years, it is still easy to get blasé about them and perhaps dismiss them as peripheral or less relevant than once they were. In this information age one can find out pretty much anything one needs to know about any sound, lighting, staging, projection or video product via the ‘net so why schlep round a hot, noisy exhibition hall?
Well, in the opinion of this correspondent at least, the equipment on display at trade shows these days is mostly just eye candy. It’s nice to be able to twiddle the knobs and be dazzled by the wobbly mirrors but that’s really not the point any more - modern trade events deliver real value to exhibitors and visitors alike by providing worthwhile opportunities to make or renew valuable personal connections. Meeting the people behind the brands and technology is priceless and often full of opportunity to develop commercial possibilities. It’s a fertile networking forum wholly dedicated to the production industry and we should make best use of it.
With the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to be critical of PLASA’s move to ExCeL in 2013. OK, it’s a fair cop, now let’s move on. The fact that so much of the pro-audio community has chosen not to participate in the London show (though they’ve been very visible at the excellent Focus events) in recent years is also regrettable and I hope that the new format and location will help to entice them back – it is of course down to PLASA to construct a credible commercial argument to get those companies back on board and I sincerely hope they do.
I freely admit that I’m biased, partly because I’ve spent chunks of my life (mostly happily) at PLASA shows but also because I believe that the UK needs and deserves a contemporary London-based trade event for the production industry. No-one reading this should need reminding of the UK’s vast influence over the world of entertainment and its associated technologies. The network of international manufacturers, resellers and distributors that have evolved to support that creativity deserve a high-profile international platform in the hippest and most artistically diverse city on earth. At the very least those who haven’t taken part for some time, both visitor and exhibitor, should definitely pop in and take a look.
I’ll see you there.
Dave Wiggins is a freelance marketeer and pro-audio pundit.