Editor's Blog

Getting in on the woke

Anyone with a passing interest in current affairs over the last few years will be au fait with the concept of getting "woke". The term, which was originally linked to the struggle of black people in America, refers to a growing awareness of social justice.
Nowadays it seems like everyone has been getting woke - from Katy Perry to Ghostbusters. And a couple of stories last week got me thinking that perhaps the event industry is now starting to dally with the concept of wokeness.
First up, there was the outcry when delegates were entertained by pole dancers and a Playboy-themed dance show at a conference at ExCeL - after gambling companies ignored calls to stamp out sexism at the event.
As sheer chance would have it, on the day the story broke I had an interview lined up with ExCeL executive director James Rees (for the must-read Massive Meetings feature in the upcoming March issue of M&IT). Obviously, I started to ask him about the story, but he headed me off with a firm “no comment”.
I’d been hoping to grill him on whether a venue should have any say over what happens at the events it stages. It’s an interesting discussion, with plenty of juicy grey areas to get stuck into, and – in the wake of the Presidents Club - one that I suspect will rear its head again soon enough.
The second story that caught my attention was a couple of event venues announcing that they would no longer advertise with the Daily Mail over concerns about the paper’s content.
Center Parcs pulled all future advertisements with the newspaper following a column by Richard Littlejohn headlined ‘Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal’ that was widely condemned on Twitter as ‘homophobic’. And the Southbank Centre announced it had no further plans to advertise in the paper following the article.
The campaign group Stop Funding Hate, which has for some time now has encouraged intolerance of intolerance, claimed a victory. Cue a large faction online clutching their handbags in horror yet again at Stop Funding Hate’s message and methods.
The more pertinent question, in my opinion, is do you care? As an event planner, does a venue taking a political stand in this way have any bearing on whether you use their services?
Any number of planners out there might reasonably think, “Well, that venue has boycotted the Daily Mail, but I don’t like that they’ve done that, it’s an attack on free speech; I’m going to boycott that venue.”
By the same token, another planner might think, “That venue has boycotted the Daily Mail, good on them, it’s a terrible paper; I’m going to use that venue for my next event.”
However, it may simply be that you see getting woke as a bit of a joke, and you simply don't care about this stuff at all.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on this – woke or otherwise.

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  • Anonymous User 19/02/2018

    James Rees has taken credit for all the good events at Excel but falls behind the weak “no comment” defence when something goes wrong. He’s been very verbose in claiming credit for Cisco and other large scale events as if the choice of Excel was the reason they worked (guffaw). But as soon as a whiff of scandal he goes into hiding.