The exhibition space, which was reorganised for 2013 with the addition of an extra hall, two seminar rooms and an imposing registration hall off Brick Lane in London’s East End, provided visitors with an adventurous route around the exhibits and meeting areas. Two new initiatives – the Market Place and Village Green – were widely applauded. In the Market Place section of the Blue Hall, a collection of small booths enabled a wide range of theatrical suppliers and associations to present their services at an affordable cost. The ‘Village Green’ as it became known during the event, became a central area for visitors to meet, have somewhere to sit and enjoy a coffee or just chat. Situated in the Green Hall, with appropriately coloured carpet, the village green was surrounded by exhibitor stands, which included the ABTT’s own, and other leading entertainment industry associations.
Show Director Roger Fox was particularly pleased with the response of exhibitors, “A common theme I keep hearing is that the visitors are exactly the sort of people they hoped to meet.” One exhibitor made a comment that a single conversation he’d just had with a visitor to his stand was worth the all the investment of being at the ABTT 2013 Theatre Show. A new exhibitor said that it was the best show he had exhibited at in his twelve years’ experience of attending similar exhibitions.
The enlarged exhibition space was sold out with 10% more exhibitors compared with 2012, including companies returning to the Theatre Show after an absence of a few years, plus some new names from the UK and Europe. Visitor numbers grew by about 4% over the previous year, which coincidentally was similar to last year - the first time at the Old Brewery – compared with 2011. Over 60% of visitors were theatre professionals, with the remainder fairly evenly spread across venue management, events, building design, film & TV, educational and non-professional theatre sectors.
The show undoubtedly lived up to its initial promise to maintain its position as the UK’s leading ‘theatre’ exhibition. In addition to ABTT Show regulars in the stage engineering, rigging, sound and lighting categories, for 2013 the wide range of exhibitors included scenery salvage, British sign language for theatre technicians, props, costumes and stage water effects.
The number of products and services launched at the Theatre Show this year was memorable; almost a quarter of all exhibitors chose the ABTT as a launchpad for new products in the UK. In addition to catching up with the latest products, visitors were equally attracted to the show by the range of seminars on offer. A full two-day free programme, keeping both seminar rooms busy, offered visitors the chance to take part in twenty-four diverse theatre-related presentations and debates. Most popular were those designed to update theatre practitioners with the latest details of regulations and standards. Central to this theme, and the most popular seminar, was the launch of the all-new edition of the completely updated Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment 2013, which has been developed by a standing committee of representatives from the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the District Surveyors Association, the Institute of Licensing and other industry organisations.
The Theatre Show was also a vital contact point for those in training, or intending to begin a career in theatre. In addition to representatives of the main industry associations, experts from several leading colleges and training institutions were on hand throughout the show, and seminars on training options and beginning a career were popular.
Photo Credit: Laura BraunBACK