Rest in peace Mega Events Fund, you were a great initiative that sadly fell victim to red tape. The red tape wrapped tight, slicing your best ideas to pieces, slowly you bled a death by a thousand cuts. Many blame the Hong Kong SAR Government, saying it was fear of another financial disaster like Harbour Fest, fear of the city’s anti-corruption agency – the ICAC – or fear of being seen to support individual companies.
As for me: I blame the Hong Kong events industry and their indifference.
It’s oddly inevitable that if you get a bunch of live-event professionals together and get them talking about the industry, it won’t take long till they start complaining about the government. Getting permits for using public space, lack of venues, lack of “real” support are just a few of the gripes I hear.
Very few, however, are taking any action to support or stepping up to lead the live events industry. Other sectors like exhibitions and conventions do get more support, much of this is due to the fact they are more vocal, more engaging with government and more supportive of their sector of the events industry.
The main recurring conversation I have concerns risk management in Hong Kong. Many event professionals say, “It is just a matter of time, so far Hong Kong has been very lucky.”
Mega-events fund wrapped in controversy
Hong Kong rules and regulations regarding events are very limited. Crowd-control measures are outdated; most events have no insurance. My fear is that when something does happen, the government will suddenly jump into action and start legislating willy-nilly, creating major stumbling blocks for the live events industry.
Doing an event will become like opening a Hong Kong restaurant where it is cheaper to pay the fine than to wait for the permit.
The events industry’s only hope is to self-regulate and initiate dialogue with policymakers, so when something does happen we have strong channels of communication and can help guide government officials to make sensible decisions.
Policymakers in government understand the process of governing. We often forget they are trying their best to come up with ideas and initiatives that help the general community.
Event professionals know the impact live events have on the economy, brands, businesses, communities and more. Yet most of us just keep our heads down and work around problems that arise.
Without good channels of communication, government can only do their best by occasionally coming up with an idea that works.
A greater voice and a few strong leaders could help to create a dialogue with government and policymakers that could strengthen and truly make Hong Kong a “Mega Events Capital” for Asia.
Robert Rogers CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) is a Hong Kong-based creative live events producer