SISO Unveils Several Member Programs, Supports Go LIVE Together Advocacy

July 1, 2020
Brian Field, Emerald

The Society of Independent Show Organizers has not only joined advocacy efforts with the Go LIVE Together Coalition during these challenging times, but also it has supported its membership of for-profit trade show organizers with several new programs.

“SISO has been laser focused on getting our industry reopened as safely and quickly as possible. We have moved quickly with our leadership of the Go LIVE Together coalition, the All Secure program and advocating to have our industry removed from the WHO mass gathering bucket,” said SISO Chair and Tarsus Group CEO Douglas Emslie.

He added, “If there is one clear lesson we have learned from this pandemic, it is that as an industry we need to come together and speak with one voice.”

David Audrain, SISO’s executive director, also said that having a collaborative effort during this critical time for the exhibitions industry was important.

“SISO has been working to bring the industry together to speak as one voice to highlight the importance of live events to the industries we serve and the value to the economy up and down the supply chain,” Audrain added.  

He said, “To achieve this single voice, SISO’s Board took a significant step in becoming the primary financial supporter and primary lead manager in the Go LIVE Together coalition, helping to bring the most important organizations in the industry together to advocate for our industry.”

Go LIVE Together comprises a coalition of more than 1,700 members representing thousands of companies and independent contractors with operations in the U.S. and 112 other countries.

The coalition has assembled to ensure that the industry is enabled to follow common safety guidelines, and when the health crisis is over, the voices and concerns of the live events industry are addressed in local, state, and federal recovery funding related to COVID-19.

“The Go LIVE Together initiative is advocating for financial relief that will support our industry now and as we begin to rebuild. With the generous financial backing of SISO, as well as other contributors, we’ve hired top lobbyists who are meeting with legislators to discuss the far-reaching impact events have on our economy,” said Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck. 

He added, “Specifically, we’re asking legislators for incentives in the form of tax credits to encourage attendees and exhibitors to return to live events and to offset the added health and safety expenses required to ensure participants can return to live events safely. Additionally, we’re requesting support for PRIA-like legislation that offers communicable disease pandemic coverage in event cancellation insurance."

Priest-Heck said Go LIVE Together was “immensely grateful for SISO’s generous financial contribution and for the strategic leadership David Audrain and Doug Emslie are providing to guide our path forward.” 

He added that the coaltion’s work has allowed for important conversations with federal, state and local governments.  

“The live events industry is continuing to get critical media attention, helping to raise awareness about the important role live events will play in our nation’s economic recovery,” Priest-Heck said.

Audrain said, while advocacy efforts were focused here in the U.S. working with Go LIVE Together, “globally, SISO continues to work with and support the efforts of UFI and the industry organizations as they reopen and rebuild.”

Beyond advocacy efforts for its members. SISO has launched several new programs, some in collaboration with mdg.  

“When the pandemic hit, we worked with SISO leadership to develop a couple of new content offerings that would provide advice and guidance to its members in relation to change management,” said mdg Chief Marketing Strategist Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes.

New content offerings included Turning Point: An Interview Series, which featured prominent leaders in the trade show space discussing ways they’ve applied lessons from past crises to the current one, their approach to scenario planning, people management and staying physically and mentally healthy through the upheaval.

Hardcastle-Geddes said mdg also created a 6-week CEO Roundtable series called The Six Dimensions of Live in the New World, hosted by Bruce Mau, Freeman’s Chief Design Officer, “that’s helping SISO executives visualize, plan and prepare for the future of live events.” 

A few other SISO programs currently assisting its members include online webinars, Town Halls, Special Interest Group discussions, online community discussion forums, the SISO Update newsletter and revised content SISO will be delivering both in-person and online at the SISO Summer Conference in August. 

“Within the SISO community, we have expanded our efforts to support our members and the industry at large by providing as much information and knowledge sharing as we can,” Audrain said.

He added of all the overall advocacy efforts, “I am proud of the way the industry has come together, and especially proud of the SISO Board and Members working for the whole Global Exhibitions Industry to recover together.”  

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