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May 11, 2008

Future event managers get Olympics experience

Only months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics begin, two speakers closely linked to the world’s greatest sporting spectacle discussed their experiences at a major national conference on events management at the University of Derby.

The National Student Events Conference, conceived by the University’s second-year Events Management degree students, was held last month. It was attended by students from Derby, New College Nottingham, Leeds Metropolitan University and Glasgow Caledonian University.

It attracted top academics and professionals working in the industry responsible for staging conferences, exhibitions, sports meetings and other events.

On the theme of A Wave of New Talent, the conference’s speakers included two men with close Olympics connections.

Simon Graveling was principal leader for the production of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, viewed by more than four billion people worldwide.

He was a consultant on the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and for this year’s 2008 Beijing Olympics, and he is a senior advisor to the London 2012 Culture, Ceremonies and Education team. Gravelling is a freelance event production Consultant working under the banner Iconic Events.

“What I wanted to convey to people was that the next Olympics, in 2012, will be right on their doorstep. Thousands of people will be involved in its organisation and it will be a prime opportunity for those wanting to work in the industry,” he said. “I compare the handling of an event like the Olympics to an awful lot of people spinning plates.”_

Paul Brookes is creative programmer for the East Midlands Cultural Olympiad. His job is to be a link between the regions, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

He enables arts and cultural bodies to get involved, creates opportunities for ordinary people to take part, and assesses whether local projects meet the criteria to become part of the UK Cultural Olympiad.

“You have to see organising major events as a long journey. You will encounter huge obstacles, but it’s about sustaining your confidence in, and expectations of, the event,” he said.

As well as hearing speakers with experience of major events talk about their Industry’s future challenges, events management students from around the UK were also able to talk to exhibitors and other industry professionals who attended.

Conor Moss, programme leader for Events Management at the University of Derby, was pleased with the way the student-organised conference had gone.

“The conference is there to give the students the experience of organising a major event,” he said. “They’ve been able to attract some of the leading names in the industry, which is a testament to their hard work. Events management is a growing industry, which is increasingly recognised as a major contributor to cultural and economic regeneration.”

In March, Derby University’s Events Management Team won the ExcellenceIn Training accolade for the second year running in the National Outdoor Events Association awards. The industry body also supported the conference.

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