'Critical cash-flow' sees PLASA reduce staff numbers

PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) has outlined its current position in the wake of various recent changes. Speaking at a meeting for PLASA Members held during the PLASA Show, John Simpson, PLASA governing body chairman and chairman of the White Light Group of companies, said: "Without doubt our major issue this year has been that of diminishing profit, which has led to a critical cash-flow problem for the organisation."

"We have taken action in implementing cost-cutting measures across many parts of PLASA, including reduction in staff, putting the Eastbourne office up for sale and a substantial restructure of the organisation. We have overcome the immediate cash flow problems for 2015, but will be limited in services we can provide during 2016 - which is why our Members’ feedback is so important as we look forward."

Speaking after the event, Simpson said: "This has been a difficult period for PLASA but it is also an opportunity for us to refocus. PLASA has a chance to reassess its role in this industry, its relationships and communications with its members, and the future directions of its commercial activities."

On the termination of the merger agreement between PLASA EU & PLASA North America (formerly ESTA), Simpson said: "Both associations will retain the assets they had prior to the merger, which in the case of PLASA will be all the event and media assets not including Protocol magazine, the property in Eastbourne, various programs, the Technical Resources Office and our skills-based qualifications such as the National Rigging Certificate. Negotiations are now in progress to allow an orderly separation of operations that are jointly owned and settlement of outstanding financial matters."

Simpson reminded members that the PLASA membership and Regional Boards were near-unanimous in voting for the merger back in 2010.

In canvassing PLASA Members’ opinions on services offered by the Association in the future, Simpson proposed an initial structure of five 'core' Member Services: Market Research & Data; Skills development; the Technical Resource Office; Political representation of membership & industry; and networking events for the membership.

In a move that has been welcomed by the majority of PLASA’s Members and exhibitors, the PLASA Show will move to Olympia in 2016, and return to a September dateline, taking place from 18-20 September. The relocated three-day show will draw on PLASA’s experience of the PLASA Focus Leeds event, and be based around smaller, more affordable exhibiting packages with a shorter build time, giving exhibitors more flexible opportunities and a faster return on investment.

Among the staff changes at PLASA is the recently announced departure of CEO Matthew Griffiths, after 17 years in that role. Clarifying the position, PLASA’s Regional Board Chairman and Managing Director of Panalux Broadcast & Event Division Ed Pagett stated: "Matthew Griffiths will be relinquishing his duties as CEO of PLASA on 31st October, but will continue to work on behalf of the Governing Body and Regional Boards on the demerger with North America until his contract ends on 31st January 2016. The PLASA Regional Board is currently working with the Executive team to redefine the management structure of PLASA that best fits our future aspirations and member/organisational needs. As soon as this has been established we will consult the membership and make the necessary transition."

In addition, PLASA Finance Director Shane McGreevy has moved to a part-time role with the organisation, and will continue to oversee the financial operation during the transition.

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