Frank Russo, CFE, executive vice president of Spectra Venue Management and an industry veteran who could fill a volume of books with personal stories about his beloved profession, believes that simplicity is the rule of the day when it comes to the One Member, One Vote currently underway and being voted on by eligible IAVM members.
“I support the One Member, One Vote because it is the right thing to do,” Russo said. “If you are a dues-paying member in good standing, you have the right to be heard on the various issues affecting our association.
While it’s that simple for me, I know a number of our members have linked this issue to the concern over whether we will become a Trade Association rather than remain a Professional one. Part of this argument has to do with who is eligible to be a Professional Member, and this is where I have some concerns.
“Just using myself as an example, I have managed the Hartford Civic Center, the Target Center and the Jacob Javits Convention Center and now I am a senior executive with a company that privately manages 145 venues. I have helped develop our Body Of Knowledge, helped write two books, served as an instructor at the Venue Management School at Oglebay and the Graduate Institute and chaired the Board of Education, and yet I am not eligible to be a Professional member. And this is not about me because there are so many others who have done far more than I have for the IAVM that are in the same boat.”
The initiative follows extensive study, review and open discussion over the last two years, at which point the IAVM Board of Directors voted unanimously to bring forward proposed changes to the bylaws that would make the Association more inclusive and diverse in its decision making. As a means to incorporate the perspective of all IAVM members, these changes would allow every member of IAVM equal opportunity to engage in the Association through the right to vote. These proposed changes must be approved by two-thirds of the current voting members of IAVM.
Russo said it is important to first get the vote passed before tackling other concerns and issues that will result from an approved ballot.
“One Member, One Vote, if passed, will add a number of new Professional members who are nowhere near as knowledgeable nor qualified as many of our most valuable and legendary members who will continue to be relegated to mere Allied status,” he said. “Let’s fix one problem at a time, though. Vote “yes’ on One Member, One Vote and then let’s tackle the issue of who deserves to be a Professional member.”
The voting period is open now so please look in your inbox for the ballot if you have not already cast your vote.
Vanderburgh County (IN) Commissioners Bruce Ungethiem, Cheryl Musgrave and Ben Shoulders unanimously approved renewal of SMG to continue management of the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville. The agreement is for another five years, continuing a longstanding relationship between the two entities.
“With the new infrastructure in place at the ONEP and other local developments in progress, the county is set up to succeed with this contract,” said Vanderburgh County Commissioner Bruce Ungethiem. “The investment we make along with the investment SMG has pledged creates a win-win for taxpayers and the local economy.”
“This continued partnership is further evidence that both Vanderburgh County and SMG are committed to increase utilization and economic impact providing exceptional results with best-in-class service to our clients.” said Sam Voisin, regional vice president of SMG.
New leadership has also been chosen at the ONEP. Alexis Berggren has been selected as general manager for the facility. She comes to Evansville from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she served as director of event services. In that position, Berggren directed all event management and exhibitor services activities for the three million square foot convention center. Prior to her appointment in New Orleans, Berggren served as the director of operations and event services for the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. She has worked as the primary liaison for high-profile events including internationally recognized award shows such as the Oscars.
“Alexis brings tremendous energy, passion and creativity to the ONEP and will utilize her in-depth knowledge of venue management to advance the mission of Vanderburgh County and SMG,” Voisin said.
The new agreement and leadership will help both the County and SMG refocus and target expanded opportunities that can now be realized due to a newly opened headquarter hotel and recent facility improvements.
The Venue Management Association Asia and Pacific (VMA) announced the appointment of Steve Harper, CFE, as their new president. Harper succeeds Trevor Dohnt, who held the position with the VMA for the past three years.
Harper has served on the VMA Board since 2012, during which time he chaired three of the Association’s Annual Congress and chaired the Membership Committee.
“It’s a pleasure for me to take on this role,” Harper said. “I feel both honoured and privileged that the VMA has given me their support.”
Harper currently holds the position of director of arenas for Melbourne and Olympic Parks, Australia’s heart of sports and entertainment, and oversees the commercial and operational management of Rod Laver, Hisense and Margaret Court Arenas.
Prior to his appointment at Melbourne and Olympic Parks in 2015, Harper acted as chief operating officer (COO) for VenuesWest in Perth, Western Australia. During his five years there, he oversaw the operational and commercial management of the seven geographically spread self-managed venues including nib Stadium, HBF Stadium and HBF Arena, which hosted events ranging from large scale music festivals to international sporting championships.
Harper was educated at the University of Washington (USA) and post-graduation took his first professional appointment in the venue management field. His first nine years in the industry were spent managing high profile sports and entertainment venues (on the USA West Coast) in Seattle (including the 75,000 seat Husky Stadium), after which he moved to Virginia as assistant and acting director for Seven Venues. In this role Harper managed all facets of seven venues, including five theatres, the 13,000-seat Scope Arena and the 15,000-seat Harbour Park Stadium.
During his time with Seven Venues, Harper received a letter of appreciation from the White House for his “unique abilities, superb attitude and professionalism in providing services to the President and the US Secret Service.”
Harper earned his Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) designation in 2005. Originally from Melbourne and as an aspiring track athlete, Harper spent his youth training at Olympic Park and the grass parklands where Melbourne Park now sits.
The VMA is the peak industry association for venue managers within the Asia Pacific region, and provides numerous opportunities for professional development, industry networking, education and knowledge sharing. The VMA looks forward to welcoming Harper to his new role.
It has taken me more than 48 hours since the horrific attack on innocent people outside the Manchester Arena on Monday night to write something about the senseless carnage. As the editor of Facility Manager magazine and an employee of the International Association of Venue Managers, I have a vested interest and concern about what happens in the world of public assembly venues. And in this case, I do mean the world.
The tragedy and loss of 22 lives and several more injured happened in the United Kingdom. It could have happened in Garland, Texas, just to use an example (which it did).
On any given night around the world, there are thousands of scheduled events taking place with audiences of all sizes held at venues of all capacities. It is a concert here. It is a soccer match there. It is a car show here. It is an opera there. It is a carnival here. It is a fair there. It is a movie here. It is a church gathering there.
It is people going out to live and love life at the venues our members manage as well as countless other venues who have no idea what IAVM is. That is OK. We are talking about celebrating what we enjoy, going someplace to laugh, cheer, watch, worship, participate. It is the essence of social human existence, something that human beings we need to exist. Social interaction, we call it. Being in a community of like believers and fans.
On this particular Monday night outside this particular arena in this particular city, all of that was brought to a halt in the most unimaginable way possible. A terrorist kills himself in order to also claim innocent lives.
Words really do fail at a time like this. I often thought the phrase “I don’t have the words …” was just a cliché, but when something like this happens, well, what do you say? We support even when we don’t have solutions, at least those of us who are not professionally equipped to address and find solutions when tragedy strikes.
We rightfully say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were taken as well as the survivors. Please don’t let that become a cliché. If you are not the praying type, then by all means please do have your thoughts with our friends in Manchester. And if you are the praying type, then please have your prayers as ongoing, because these folks do need our prayers for their strength and comfort at this time and going forward.
Several IAVM staff met the morning after the tragedy to discuss our Association’s response. I have never been prouder to be on a staff and team that cares so much about this wonderful industry. We are not venue managers, but I know that each and every individual who works at IAVM deeply cares about not just our members and their venues, but what happens at other venues as well.
As you might expect, our president and CEO, Brad Mayne, has been overwhelmed from media seeking comment, as has Chairman Mark Mettes. Our director of education, Mark Herrera, has given numerous interviews to local and national publications, radio and television. We are fortunate to have someone with Mark’s security background and training on our staff.
In our Tuesday meeting, Mark spoke about how this diabolical act took place after an Ariana Grande concert concluded and people were leaving the venue3. We often think about safety and security before an event, from the parking lot to bag searches to magnetometers and more. We don’t want the bad guys in the venue with us, but what about when they are lurking in the shadows outside the building? When the show ends, doesn’t everything seem anti-climactic? The curtain raises. The lights go up. A voice might or might not be on the PA system to tell everyone thank you for coming and to please drive safe on your way home. Aren’t we all supposed to get home when we leave?
I thought back to John Wilborn’s story in the January/February issue of Facility Manager as he recounted the full scope of what happened at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, when two armed terrorists arrived to cause destruction and death as people were leaving that venue following an event. Fortunately, the bad guys were killed by police before they could cause harm.
Unfortunately, the same did not happen this time. Lives were lost, and we mourn and hurt for the senseless violence. But we stand with the city of Manchester, the Manchester Arena, its staff and everyone there who has a role at the facility.
And those bent on violence always need to know this: Manchester, Garland, or anywhere else, the show WILL go on.
As more details about the recent attack at Manchester Arena emerge, IAVM has been contacted by media and public assembly managers from around the world regarding the safety and security of guests, artists, teams, and venue professionals, as well as how facility management should plan and be better prepared to address any potential issues that could potentially undermine a safe and secure environment in their unique venues.
There has never been a more compelling need to raise the bar and establish industry security guidelines and training than the present. It is imperative that we begin utilizing all the available training resources to prepare for any potential risk or hazard. It is important that training, especially post-crisis, is properly vetted for effectiveness.
IAVM advocates a proactive approach to preparing staff and reviewing all emergency evacuation plans, any emergency procedures and protocols, through effective on-going training. Training and other resources are widely available through many associations, Federal, Local & State Agencies, as well as through IAVM’s Academy for Venue Safety & Security, Live- Life Safety Training, EMSSI, and the educational programming at VenueConnect Annual Conference.
If you are not sure where to start, let us help. You can begin by contacting IAVM at 972-538-1000 or visit our website at iavm.org.
Thank you for all you do every single day to make our venues safe and secure.