Small Events

Andy Grove, interim president of the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), considers the public appeal of small and medium sized events

One of the greatest things about events is their diversity. One dictionary definition of an event is ‘a thing that happens’, which covers almost every eventuality. For our industry, the definition, ‘a planned public or social occasion’ is probably more apt. There is still no reference to size, but realistically there can’t be as events come in all shapes and sizes and can be based around music, theatre, dance, sport, commerce, religion, heritage (and anything else), and may range from massive to tiny, and be ticketed or free. There really is something for everyone if you take the time to look.

Pic: Getty Images

So, what is the public appeal of small to medium sized events, and why are there so many of them? Perhaps some events are just too big to be appealing to everyone; the sheer volume of people and the inevitable inconvenience that comes with being part of a massive crowd. Getting in and out of a venue as well as moving around it, getting food and drink and ensuring you can see what you went there to see, can all be a bit of a hassle and can be a bit impersonal, leaving people feeling isolated.

Pic: Getty Images

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that and smaller events can still have their problems with crowds and queuing if not planned properly. However, in general, smaller events are more relaxed with a feeling of warmth and intimacy. The smaller the event, the more likely this is as it becomes easier to focus on the specific needs of your target audience; the fewer people there are the less diverse they are likely to be and the easier they might be to please. Also, there is likely to be a lower ticket price, which makes attending the event more affordable.

Continuing to generalise, larger festivals tend to be run by big corporates that have the staff, experience and budgets to cope. Many lower attendance events are run by smaller companies, individuals or voluntary groups that can find it harder to make ends meet and for whom delivering events can be more challenging, especially when dealing with the authorities.

Pic: Getty Images

All organisers (big and small) need guidance and support, which often comes from trade associations that meet the specific needs of their members. The industry associations in the UK have worked together under the banner of the Events Industry Forum to produce the Purple Guide (, and work is underway to specifically target smaller events organisers with a simplified guide that is easier to use and potentially less daunting.

The National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) is very much a part of this process and really understands the difficulties its members can face, working hard to support them. Members can ask any questions they like about organising events and NOEA will endeavour to get them answered. Frequently the support required is in relation to dealing with the authorities and NOEA has a strong track record in providing training, guidance and advice on areas such as licensing, safety advisory groups, police charging, legal matters and much more.

NOEA is there to provide members with whatever level of support and guidance they need and is keen to hear more from them in order to deliver exactly want they need.



An introduction to the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA)

NOEANOEA, established in 1979, is the only trade association specialising in the outdoor events industry. It has over 500 members, which include festival and event organisers, venues, equipment suppliers and local authorities.

Its policy is to educate, advise on and enhance professionalism and business opportunities within the industry and it does so with regional workshops, conferences, news bulletins and online resources. It also holds an annual convention, which offers opportunities to find out about topical issues and legislation within the industry such as policing, Construction Design and Management Regulations, licensing, accessibility, commerciality and event management.

NOEA is also involved with the Business Visits and Events Partnership, the Genesis Initiative, the Events Industry Forum and the Joint Advisory Committee for Entertainment. The purpose is to debate issues, share information, network, meet new business contacts, renew old friendships and have some fun!

NOEA has been working with various organisations to produce templates for agreements and for consistency across the UK in charging for a police presence at events. It also called for a ban on sky lanterns because of the danger to life, livestock and land.

“We do help make a difference when it comes to fighting the outdoor events industry’s corner with campaigns like tackling police costs and calling for the ban on Chinese lanterns,” says Richard Limb, retired president of the association. “We regularly meet with government officials and official bodies to make sure the voice of the events industry is heard.

“Over the last 35 years we have had more and more household names such as the Jockey Club and Losberger UK joining us, which adds gravitas to our arguments. We will continue to grow and represent the views of our members with the government. NOEA is here to support all its members; several are one man bands and from time to time need support and like-minded people to turn to, which is one of the benefits of being a member.

NOEA has also set up a student council to encourage young people to get involved and learn from the experienced members. “It goes without saying that current members are experienced,” says Limb. “We want to get the balance right and encourage students to get involved and learn from our members as we look to the future of the industry.”

NOEA’s Services

  • Regular email news digests and newsletters
  • Articles in Access All Areas magazine and Event Industry News
  • Publication of the Members’ Yearbook, and the outdoor events industry reference guide (complimentary copy upon application)
  • Participation in major industry trade shows with complimentary admission tickets
  • Legal advice and debt recovery
  • Croner’s Business Helpline telephone service
  • NOEA Insurance Panel

DETAILS / 01749 674531

About Open Air Business 1380 Articles
The voice of outdoor hospitality - in print and online. If you liked this article, subscribe to the printed magazine here. We produce industry e-news between issues - please sign up here