Event Organisers Update March 2020 ISSUE 184 - an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO).

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Event Organisers Update

The newsletter for organisers of events.


It's a very tough call.

Thousands of events worldwide must be cancelled or postponed because of the risk of giving the invisible killer the chance to be transmitted from one human being to another and kill more. Starving the virus of human hosts to infect and possibly kill is the only way to prevent massive loss of life until an effective vaccine appears, perhaps in a year.

To achieve the minimum people contact to save lives, and to give the NHS time to re-arm and re-equip for the expected thousands needing hospital treatment we are all being told to stay indoors, except to take exercise or shop for essential food or medicine. And then we all have to keep a social distance of at least 2 metres from each other, more if possible, and not gather in groups of more than two, unless family. How can you run an event, any kind of event, with those vital rules? Meanwhile non-essential shops, pubs, libraries, cinemas museums, art galleries etc have all been forced to shut. Restaurants too, unless for take-away and delivery. How long can they survive on that level of trade?

For our part we are continuing to write and publish our little newsletter, although we cannot visit restaurants, cinemas, museums or art galleries to write reviews, the most enjoyable part of the job. The news pages will continue, and we can still run film reviews from films supplied by our friends at Eureka Entertainment, and from our own extensive collection of DVD films collected over the years. Readers can also access films on Netflix and You Tube, and get second hand DVD and Blu-ray copies posted from the thousands offered by CEX, our own main source, with a £1.95 post and packing charge per item. (Was £1.50 until they had to close all their shops a few days ago).

Stay safe and happy.


The organisers of a US music festival cancelled because of coronavirus have confirmed that their event insurance policy did not cover them for the cancellation.

Organiser Roland Swenson of the South by Southwest music festival due to take place in Austin, Texas earlier this month told the Austin Chronicle newspaper that their policy did not cover loss due to "bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics".

It is thought that very few policies available currently include this coverage, because the risk is not fully understood and very difficult to price. One product, PathogenRX was launched two years ago and covers companies hit by a disease outbreak in the USA and Asia. However, sales until recently have been slow as it was perceived as expensive given the risk. Now with the eventuality more likely the insurers are witnessing a sharp rise in demand. 

Reportedly by CNN the number of disease outbreaks is increasing and factors affecting this are increased human contact with wild animals (as natural habitats are destroyed to create agricultural land) the speed and frequency of global travel and the concentration of people in cities. It is thought that, for the future, coronavirus outbreaks could happen every 25 or 50 years, with other disease outbreaks such as malaria, cholera and ebola occurring more frequently.


One way to deal with the expected hospitalisation of thousands for COVID 19 is to set up large temporary field hospitals and to this end the Excel Exhibition and Conference Centre in London's Docklands is to be converted to the Nightingale Hospital, specialising in treating the virus and offering two wards of 2,000 beds each. The NHS also has an arrangement with private UK hospitals that will give them 20,000 staff, 8,000 beds and 1,200 ventilators.

There have additionally been reports that the Queen Elizabeth 2 Conference Centre in Westminster, and exhibition/conference venues in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow will be converted to field hospitals to help cope with the crisis.


The Old War Office in Whitehall, London, where Winston Churchill oversaw World War Two, is to be converted into a seven-floor luxury hotel.

Opening in 2022 this will offer 125 rooms and will be called the OWO, using the initials of the Old War Office.

The OWO is to be run by the Raffles Group and is set to incorporate boutique retailers, a spa, bars and nine restaurants. It will also include 85 luxury residences run by the Raffles Group in partnership with the Hinduja Group.


The effect of WW2 on a 10-year-old German boy, Johannes "JoJo" Betzler, is the theme of this quirky, satirical and heart-warming film which has been in UK cinemas for a few months.

This has scored a healthy 80% positive reviews from the critics on the Rotten Tomatoes website, and an impressive 94% from cinema audiences, suggesting that an unhealthy 15% or so of critics are out of touch with their market and wouldn't know a good film if it jumped up and broke wind at them, which is essentially what JoJo Rabbit does, and we personally loved it for that.

JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) is an innocent, sweet and compassionate boy in 1944 Berlin who wants to be a heroic Nazi and joins the Hitlerjugend as soon as he is able. It is at the Hitler Youth camp, under the watchful eye of the one-eyed Wehrmacht officer Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) that JoJo is ordered to strangle a harmless bunny to prove how nasty a Nazi he can be. Well he can't, and tries to release it, leaving some young Nazi thugs to gleefully snap its neck, and picking up the jeering "JoJo Rabbit" nickname from the others there, apart from his friend, Yorki. (Archie Yates). After this JoJo is injured by a carelessly thrown hand grenade and spends the rest of the war on menial, non-combatative duties.

However JoJo has other friends.  He has an imaginary one who pops up to give him bad advice from time to time (the film's director, Taika Waititi) who looks and sounds like a chummy Adolph Hitler. His Mum, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), a secret member of the Resistance, gives him much good advice and risks her life hiding a beautiful young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic, for JoJo to find. Having been indoctrinated into believing Jews were monsters JoJo is initially wary, but over time an affection develops, even though, or perhaps because, Elsa tells him: "You're not a Nazi, JoJo. You're a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club."

As events move on the film becomes much more bittersweet, with a tear-jerking tragedy, a funny cameo of an oily Gestapo officer (Stephen Merchant) and a shocking and seriously affecting ending involving the charismatic Klenzendorf, which we won’t spoil by revealing. Go see, and enjoy.


Top director John Ford made three fine Westerns featuring the US cavalry fighting native Americans and starring John Wayne, all supported by character actor Victor McLaglen. These were Fort Apache in 1948, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon in 1948 and Rio Grande in 1950, the first pairing of the Duke with the flashing-eyed Maureen O'Hara. The first two were shot amid the stirring the Rio Grande's Monument Valley, Utah and this one around Moab, Utah, a smaller version of the Valley and with the Colorado River standing in for the Grande.

This is the river that Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (Wayne) must cross into Mexico to pursue marauding Apaches that have captured a group of fort children, holding them in a church. Yorke's life is further complicated by the arrival of a son he hasn't seen for 15 years - Jefferson Yorke played by Claude Jarmanj Junior -  and who has flunked out of college at West Point and enlisted in the Army as one of 18 recruits sent to Dad Yorke's regiment, where he is determined to stay and be treated like a regular soldier. Just as determined that he won’t is his mother Kathleen, Yorke's estranged wife played by Maureen O'Hara, who has come to take him home, but he refuses to go.

Throughout Rio Grande there are contrasting moments of excitement and calm.  As well as the fighting there is some seriously skilful "Roman Riding" or featuring riders standing up with one foot on the backs of each of two racing horses. And calmer moments come when on almost enough occasions to make the film a musical melodic cowboy singing breaks out, such as when Mr and Mrs Yorke are serenaded to the strains of "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" a moment some will find deeply affecting, and some just a tad mawkish. However, it is a step on the road to the Yorke's reconciliation, so all's well…

Rio Grande is being released on April 6 in a new Blu-ray edition by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema series. Included in the pack are two audio commentaries, a video essay, an archival documentary, an archival featurette and a 50-page collector's booklet including two new essays, a transcript of an interview with director John Ford and the 1947 short story Mission With No Record by James Warner Bellah, on which Rio Grande was based.


The deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has advised event organisers in a conference call that there will be no ban on live events and other large-scale mass gatherings in the UK, and said that there was "no clear rationale" for closing events in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, despite events being banned in Switzerland, Italy and France.

Professor Van-Tam's excellent and heart-warming advice was published by events magazine Access All Areas in a press release dated Wednesday March 4. Later, on March 8 the good Professor told the people of Norfolk not to avoid Norwich, going shopping or to football matches. And on March 10 that it was "perfectly safe" for the people of Yorkshire to visit their Meadowhall shopping centre in Leeds, and other crowded places, such as York station.

A few days later the picture was very different as hundreds of events were sadly cancelled or postponed, and people sensibly avoided going shopping, going to football matches and to any busy places. And staying home as much as possible and keeping two metres away from others when out.

"Misinformation is our greatest enemy as we work to contain the virus" says the good Prof.


Reportedly a doctor in Russia has been encouraging folk there to visit crowded churches, saying that they can't possibly pick up the virus in a holy place.

Apparently, many folks are taking her advice so that they can be "close to their God."

Don't go there.


o With most of us now looking for delivery of food and meals a London-based foodie newsletter, Hot Dinners, is becoming an excellent information source.

The current issue has a section for London's best food shops and restaurants that deliver, which includes offers from them.

We'll raise a glass to editor Catherine Hanly.

Meanwhile for food and meals delivery in other parts of the UK we will publish our reader's recommendations


The Raffles Group deny that their new hotel name was to use Winston Churchill's initials… Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam explains why his medical advice supports so many large commercial ventures and why he keeps getting it dangerously wrong… A doctor in Russia tests positive for coronavirus after visiting a safe crowded church… and much, much more…


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