Graham Rouse, board chair NZEA Graham Rouse, board chair NZEA

Events industry has responsibility for change

The New Zealand events industry needs to play a much more proactive role in demonstrating and encouraging positive behaviour and inclusivity within society.

That was the message from NZEA board chairman Graham Rouse at the NZEA event awards gala dinner evening this week.

Rouse drew attention to the horrific act of terrorism in Christchurch on 15 March 2019, paying respect to the Christchurch community and all those affected.

'Probably like you, and hopefully like some of the rest of the country, I’ve been wondering what I can do to make a difference in this new New Zealand,' he said. 

'However, unlike the rest of the country, we in the events industry actually have the means to make that difference.

'We’re in a privileged position where the work we do provides the opportunity for people to congregate and interact, usually on the terms and the parameters that we set.

'Through common denominators - whether that’s music, sport, culture, business - we curate experiences that connect people person to person like few other things can.

'As you all know those experiences can be incredibly powerful.

'So some of the questions I’ve been asking myself over the last week or so are: how can we optimise those experiences; how, through our events, can we demonstrate or encourage positive behaviours; and what are the diversity and inclusion benchmarks we can set that can become the new norm elsewhere in society?

Rouse said he doesn't have the answers to those questions, but over the coming weeks and months the industry will need to process and act upon the implications of March 15, particularly in terms of safety and security.

'Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all became agents for change through our events?'