Representatives of the lighting industry were scheduled to meet in France in May 2021. (Getty Images)

Citing recovery time for industry, conference looks to 2022

Nomadic lighting conference Showlight announced its 2021 edition won’t take place because of the uncertainty surrounding the lifting of government-imposed restrictions resulting from the threat of COVID-19. The next edition of the quadrennial event would have taken place May 22-25 in Fontainebleau, France.

Even if the restrictions are lifted soon and would technically allow for an event such as Showlight, which attracts 400 professionals from the lighting industries, to go ahead, organizers anticipate companies and individuals across the industry will require a recovery period in the coming months.

VenuesNow reached out to Julie Harper, PR and marketing consultant for Showlight, to inquire more about this decision, which runs counter to what many in the industry have been doing: waiting until the last moment, until there was no doubt their event wouldn’t be allowed to go ahead legally.

While the pandemic’s “immediate hit to the industry was obvious,” Harper said, “it began to emerge that recovery is likely to be protracted because of the nature of our work — audiences, artists and technicians all unable to maintain social distancing, for example.”

“While we are extremely disappointed to cancel Showlight 2021, we stand behind the industry, and the industry comes first. With the new financial year starting, companies would be planning annual budgets and the cost of exhibiting, travel and accommodation for Showlight would be an added strain on company and individual finances at a time when income and wages are severely reduced. We decided therefore to remove this financial consideration until the industry has had a chance to recover.”

According to Harper, “Showlight is a celebration, not something that should add to financial concerns. Better that we postpone rather than try and put something together in the shadow of the worst year for show business since World War II.”

Postponements until later in 2021 would have clashed with an already busy industry schedule. “It would be hard to find a date for Showlight that didn’t compromise another event. Our sponsors have already said they are happy to maintain their support, but with theaters, concert venues, film and TV studios closed and the manufacturing and service industry waiting to start work again, plus many technicians and creative designers out of work, it will take many months for the industry to get back on its feet again. For this reason, a 12-month delay is far more realistic,” she said.

The rescheduled dates for the event will be announced later.

Showlight is a voluntary organization dependent upon the support of sponsors and exhibitors. Without sponsorship from many companies and the goodwill and attendance of lighting industry exhibitors, the economics of Showlight wouldn’t add up.

The Showlight committee deliberately did not wait for concrete governmental guidance. “This decision was made by the Showlight committee based entirely on our own view of the state of industry,” Harper said.