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PLASA in focus for future

Trade body builds on regional shows in Europe and US – and co-operates with NAMM to bring more audio, lighting, video and stage technology professionals to Nashville during the 2012 Summer NAMM event.

Industry organisations PLASA and NAMM have announced an agreement to bring more audio, lighting, video and stage technology professionals to Nashville during the 2012 Summer NAMM event. As part of the agreement, PLASA will hold its new PLASA Focus: Nashville 2012 event to overlap with 2012 Summer NAMM.
Following last month’s successful PLASA Focus: Austin 2012, PLASA Focus: Nashville 2012 will be PLASA’s second regional event in North America and will be held from 11-12 July 2012 at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium downtown. Summer NAMM will take place on 12-14 July at the Nashville Convention Center.
In 2013, NAMM and PLASA will further develop this relationship by staging a PLASA Focus event at Summer NAMM inside the new Music City Center, allowing more space for exhibitors along with the music products (MI) showfloor and educational sessions.
These moves come a year after PLASA and US-based ESTA merged under the PLASA name, to create a strengthened body with a worldwide membership of over 1,240 companies and individuals.
How is the combined operation working out? “Remarkably well,” says PLASA CEO Matthew Griffiths. “The first year was all about making sure we had the right building blocks in place. Prior to the merger much time went into making sure all the details worked. There’s still fine-tuning to be done, making sure not doubling up on things for example. Overall it is working smoothly.”
The organisation will continue to operate out of its two hubs – in North America and Europe. “But that’s not to say we might not add further bases in due course,” says Griffiths. “We have plenty to keep us busy right now. Other than launching trade shows, market research and improving our communication with members, the major task at present is establishing PLASA as a global trade body, including the establishment of regional boards.”
Trade shows remain a key ingredient in the PLASA mix and in particular, the PLASA Focus events are proving a major draw on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, the PLASA Focus: Leeds 2011 attracted over 2,500 visitors; the 2012 edition runs 17-18 April and registration is already up over 100% from the year before. Nearly 30 new companies will be exhibiting, and new this year for PLASA Focus: Leeds is a new PLASA Focus Professional Development Programme.
Asked to account for the format’s success, Griffiths suggests, “It’s what the market wants – a regional show embracing regional projects, bringing together manufacturers, dealers, rental companies and giving them the opportunity to meet and talk about regional issues as well as national ones. Our first US show sold well and attracted a good level of attendance and participation. It was particularly pleasing to have house full notices on nearly all the seminar sessions.
“We have a very good team putting the events together and they make it as easy as possible for people to participate. And they are priced accordingly. We will certainly consider rolling out the format more fully within Europe. Whether that’s in the UK or mainland Europe remains to be seen. In the US we have already announced the second show in Nashville. It’s a model that works.”
The main annual PLASA show in London itself remains a key fixture in the entertainment technology calendar. “That’s a different animal serving different markets,” says Griffiths. “Despite all the debate about the Olympic Games effect, bookings are going very well for this year. It’s very positive. We’re ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of the number of exhibitors. And the Olympics will have a positive rather than negative effect.
“Also, we’re building much more into the show this year in terms of seminars, training and other attractions.” And the hardy annual question – Will PLASA be staying at Earls Court? “The on-going ‘will they won’t they?’ question. Obviously, we are there for 2012. We are about to discuss 2013. Past that we are taking an internal view on where we want to go with the show. I think we can be at Earls Court as long as we want, it all depends whether we want to develop the show via another venue. London is certainly our thinking at present.”