XpoNorth cancel its annual conference due to COVID-19 but sees an acceleration on its digital provision to support creatives

XpoNorth offer an acceleration on its digital provision despite announcing the cancellation of its annual conference

XpoNorth has announced today that after closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and with great concern for its delegates, speakers, showcasing artists, conference partners, suppliers and staff, it has cancelled its annual conference XpoNorth 2020. With the Scottish Government advising to cancel or postpone all mass events of 500 people or more, it was felt that this was the most responsible course of action. The new guidelines have also meant that XpoNorth has taken the decision to cancel its ‘On the Road’ events which were already in progress and had seen the team helping creatives in Oban and Fort William. However, XpoNorth has been quick to respond to this unfolding and challenging time and has launched several initiatives to accelerate its digital provision across the creative sector.

XpoNorth plays an essential role in supporting local creatives and businesses by working year-round to support, connect and advise practitioners across the creative industries. It offers direct access to the Highlands and Islands network as well as the global marketplace to ensure that all creatives can connect with industry professionals. The ‘Sector Support Programme’ is an agile customer led service which facilitates access to specialist advisors for creative and cultural businesses based in the Highlands and Islands. Its ‘On the Road’ events are an important element in reaching out to creative communities - with Inverness, Elgin, Skye, Wick, Stornoway and Orkney all due to be visited during this tour of the region.

The XpoNorth 2020 conference was scheduled to take place at Eden Court Cinema and Theatre in June. The 2019 edition attracted over 1,500 delegates across the creative sector and produced 57 seminars featuring a host of leading local, national and international speakers. Additionally, the conference showcased over 60 music acts across the city, produced a diverse film screening programme whilst presenting dedicated craft exhibitions, trade areas for regional, national and international partners as well as a range of receptions and networking opportunities. Previous speakers that have joined XpoNorth include representatives from Paramount, Universal, Sony, NASA, Times of India Media Group, The Louvre, The Internal Olympic Committee and Museum, HarperCollins, NBC, CBC, Alessi, Harris Tweed Authority, The Tate Gallery, Bookbub, Kobo, Google, YouTube, Xbox and PlayStation.

Iain Hamilton, Head of Creative Industries, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said:

‘The multi-faceted delivery model of an event such as XpoNorth requires significant advance logistical and strategic preparation - and although we have programmed and curated an outstanding conference schedule for our 2020 edition, the health and safety of every network related to the event has to be our main priority in this unprecedented situation. XpoNorth strives to offer a global aspect on the key themes impacting and shaping the creative and cultural arenas - and has consistently attracted some of the most influential networks across the international marketplace to the beautiful Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Given the nature of our event, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensure that we make the correct decision in the face of this pandemic and take the latest advice issued by the Scottish Government with the upmost seriousness’.

XpoNorth has been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate its digital provision under the current circumstances. Yesterday it launched its ‘Heritage HangOuts’ which will offer 30 minute slots for heritage organisations across the Highland and Islands to discuss how technology can be used most effectively to engage with new and existing audiences; discuss how to better articulate the richness of your stories, package and distribute digital experiences for remote consumers; develop new and immersive online interaction; and discuss ways to monetise your assets. Visit the XpoNorth website for more details and to find out how you can sign up.

In addition to ‘Heritage HangOuts’, XpoNorth has released the first edition in its new series of Podcasts. These podcasts have been curated by XpoNorth to highlight different ways that you can potentially generate new ideas, products, services and income during what is a very difficult period for most businesses and organisations. The first in the series features Digital Sector Specialist, Tim Wright, in conversation with founder of MemberMouse, Eric Turnnesse. This podcast discusses what MemberMouse is, how to make a membership model work and Eric's life as a creative. It can be found on the XpoNorth website.

Over the coming weeks, XpoNorth will continue to bring dynamic support sessions to its businesses as effectively as possible during this difficult time. In addition to the above, it is also finalising preparations to offer a suite of resources, video content and live virtual workshops. Further details on this will be released on its website shortly.

To help alleviate what is a very challenging time for everyone, XpoNorth has started to compile a list of COVID-19 links and resources on its website which should help you with where to look for support as we work through this together. 

As always, keep an eye out for further updates and useful resources via its website and social platforms, or sign up to its newsletter. For any other questions, please email info@xponorth.co.uk.

Please take care of yourselves, and each other.

XpoNorth Team


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