ABTT Theatre Show 2023 welcomes more attendees than ever for another successful event!

26 June 2023

With over 3000 registrations, this year’s ABTT Theatre Show at Alexandra Palace was busier than ever. This much-loved industry event drew a broad range of attendees at all stages of their careers alongside an ever-increasing list of exhibitors from all areas of the industry! Find out more below.

Running once again over two sun-filled days, the ABTT Theatre Show gave the Industry an opportunity to meet face-to-face in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The ABTT would like to thank all those exhibitors who returned along with the many new exhibitors joining us for the first time. With an increase of 15% of exhibitors on the show floor, this year’s event gave our attendees over 150 brands to whom to speak.

The ABTT would also like to thank all those attendees who joined us, contributing to an 82% growth in overall visits among which was a 53% increase in students and attending. The new ABTT ‘Skills Workshops’ were particularly popular, tutoring over 150 attendees over the 2 days in a broad variety of topics. Responses from those who attended have been overwhelmingly positive with 100% saying they were useful and helped develop their knowledge and skills!

This year, ABTT focused on younger people with an emphasis on career development, training and job opportunities. As such, attendees had the chance to visit the ABTT ‘Careers and Professional Development Hub’, hosted by Industry Specialists making themselves available to assist aspiring future industry professionals with their career development.

Clare Milner, a Freelance Theatre Technician and Stage Manager returned to the ABTT Theatre Show this year following a visit to the Hub in 2022 to say thank you to the two professionals that helped her commenting:
“I attended the ABTT Professional Development Hub in 2022 having completed the ABTT Bronze Award and I asked for a 1-1 meeting to seek some guidance on how to take a freelance career forward. We reviewed and improved my CV together and I was then fortunate enough that a company had faith in me and employed me to do a tour with them and I have been in consistent work since. I am so glad that I took a moment to ask for help because it has given me the confidence to be where I am today. It has changed my life. I am much happier in my work and I am very excited on where it is going to take me now.”

ABTT Trustee, Ben Stephen, who coordinated the mentoring said:
“With many companies and colleagues telling us they are finding it hard to recruit technicians who are available for work and also hearing from our membership and show visitors that they are finding it hard to get a role in the industry, the ABTT felt it was important to try and bring those people together. The Theatre Show was the perfect place to do it as we can give guidance and advice while also signposting people to employers, manufacturers, theatres, associations, training providers – everyone is here; it is fantastic!”

Alongside the ABTT’s initiative to promote the importance of ongoing skills and training, there was a fierce sense of determination to build the industry back better with a focus on recruitment and retention which continued in the diverse range of seminars and talks available.

Many visitors took advantage of these free specialist-led seminars with key topics including; ‘The Future of Theatre is AI’, ‘Diversity: Our Strengths and Challenges’, ‘Theatre plus VR = ?’, ‘Take the Time for Mental Health’, and ‘The Voices of the Next Generation’. These sessions offered a chance for discussion, reflection and the promotion of actions to address some of the key challenges facing the Industry as it rebuilds. These sessions were recorded and are now available on the ABTT Website as a benefit of ABTT Membership.

Ryan Metcalfe of Preevue added, “I think the ABTT Theatre Show is a fantastic annual gathering of Theatre’s best. The selection of exhibitors and the concurrently running seminars and workshops make it a fantastic resource to have and I would encourage everyone to come along to it.”

Theresa Gibson of Robe, noted, “We saw visitors arriving early and leaving late, there was a lot of interaction and networking, and ABTT’s own seminar and workshop programme appeared very popular and was booked up well in advance. In addition to the growing show and increase in exhibitors, it is THE place to be to get in front of both current and the next generation of creative and technical innovators.”

This year saw exhibitors both displaying products and seeking visitor engagement with over 25 stands giving profile to their recruitment campaigns. Feedback suggested this was successful in both promoting their brand and also in gaining new staff and freelancers for the future.

Carnival Cruise Lines stated: “It is a fantastic venue to network and see the latest technology in the industry as well as an opportunity to find potential employment. We are here recruiting, as are a lot of other exhibitors, so it is a great way to find out about opportunities that may be available to you in the future while staying connected with what’s happening in the Industry.”

Companies recruiting at the event included, but were not limited to: Academy of Live Technology, Carnival Cruise Line, Creative Alliance, D&B AudioTechnik, Disney Cruise Line, GSA, GSMD, Lamp & Pencil, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Royal Opera House, RWS Global and White Light.

Ryan Metcalfe of Preevue, added: “The ABTT Theatre Show is a great opportunity for young people to come along and meet prospective employers. There are stands recruiting on the Show Floor and the ABTT’s CV workshops and 1-1 sessions run by professionals in the industry are giving essential advice to people on how to achieve their goals.”

The variety of Exhibitors continues to reflect the breadth of our industry with  8 seating suppliers, 16 in Sound and AV, 14 in Rigging and Engineering, 15 in Lighting, 25 in Education, Training or Recruitment, 11 Associations and Charities and 33 specialist companies covering areas such as VR, laser scanning, rope assembly, drapes, production, theatre supplies, software and plenty more!

Orbital Sound noted:“There is no other show around like the ABTT Theatre Show; it is unique! Where else will you find all the different people from suppliers, manufacturers and users coming together to talk to each other? It doesn’t happen anywhere else. It is a great annual event for young people to come as it is the only event where they can see so many people specifically from the Theatre Industry in a single location.”

Andy Simmons of NEXO added; “I think it is one of the few shows that is market specific and it is the only opportunity to meet people from the Theatre Industry. For young people there are a lot of manufacturers and rental companies who are desperate to meet young people for employment and work experience. There are also a lot of training organisations as well, which are useful for them to know about and of course it is the one event with all the associations and unions relevant to their career!”

Robe UK sales director Ian Brown said, “We had a very busy show full of top-grade professionals capitalising on the intimate format to have some in depth conversations about current and future projects. Normally at a trade show, you don’t get the luxury of 30 minutes to talk to individuals direct, and that’s the USP and the beauty of ABTT!”

Reflecting on the successful return of the show, ABTT Events Manager, Elysia Moore, commented:
“It has been fantastic working on the 43rd edition of this staple event. Seeing ideas such as the ABTT Workshops and the Careers and Professional Development Hub come to fruition with such positive response is overwhelming. The increase in attendees and exhibitors is excellent and I am delighted that the ABTT Theatre Show remains such a popular event. We are privileged to be able to provide a platform for our industry to discuss, share, reconnect and be inspired. We cannot wait to return to Alexandra Palace in 2024 on the 5th – 6th of June.”

The ABTT Theatre Show draws exhibitors and visitors from all over the world whether they be interested in lighting, audio visual, scenography, rigging, set construction, sound, costume, seating, staging, wigs, make-up, pyrotechnics or anything else employed in a performance.

Providing THE essential meeting point for our community –the Theatre Show supports our suppliers, service providers and networks with the opportunity both to renew existing relationships and to forge exciting new connections.

To find out more about ABTT Theatre Show 2024 visit: https://www.abtt.org.uk/abtt-theatre-show/

If you would like to exhibit at the ABTT Theatre Show on the 5th – 6th June 2024 please contact the ABTT Events Manager, Elysia Moore on office@abtt.org.uk or you can also find more information on the website here: https://www.abtt.org.uk/abtt-theatre-show/exhibit-at-the-show/