DIY Venues

DIY Venues

What about the option of 'creating' your own conferencing venue? How would it work to (say) just put a marquee in a field, and use that? Of course, a marquee would only be viable in the summer months, but there might be other spaces you know about, which aren't generally used as venues, and that you think might usefully be co-opted for the purpose (somewhere in your own premises for example). First of all, it has to be said, that creating your own venue is not a particularly easy option. It's not necessarily an inexpensive option either, marquees for instance, are not cheap to hire, and there may well be changes you have to make to an internal space, in order to make it suitable for public use. Legal Requirements The main legal requirement you will have to consider is this: licensing. If your venue is to be used for any 'licensable activity' then you will have to either, get it licensed on a permanent basis, or obtain a T.E.N. (Temporary Event Notice) for the dates of the event. What is a licensable activity? Serving alcohol of course, but entertainments as well, and non-alcoholic, 'late night refreshments'. Any individual can apply for up to five T.E.N. per year; if you have a personal license, you can apply for fifty. It has to be said that the licensing system overall, is not a good fit with normal corporate structures. This is because an actual individual (NOT a corporate person) has to take personal responsibility for ensuring that the terms of the license or T.E.N. are adhered to, regardless really, of her or his management role or level. I.e. the CEO may well have ultimate responsibility, in general, for the actions of the organisation, but the license holder has responsibility (and will bear the brunt of fines in relation to) any local authority license breaches. Of course organisations such as pub and hotel chains, whose business requires constant interaction with licensing regulations, will have a management structure which takes this into account, but most organisations don't. Here are some of the other legal considerations. > Public Liability Insurance. You need this for any space which is to be used for a public gathering. In the case of an attendee being harmed accidentally, the P.L. insurance will cover most claims which can be made against you and/or the owners of the venue. The price of the cover will depend on the nature of the event, the numbers of people who will be involved, and the number of times per year you intend to hold such events. Cover of up to 20 million pounds is common. > PRS license, if you intend using recorded or live music. In the latter case, it is only necessary to have a PRS if the musicians intend playing material which is not of their own composition, and is not 'traditional'. > Risk assessment (for the venue, and for a particular event). Often, insurers will ask for this before they quote. > Disability access. Practical Requirements Well, obviously, if you go this route, you will have to source everything yourself, in one way or another: for example audio/visual equipment, catering, stewarding (safety stewards if the numbers exceed a few dozen) entertainments, and so on. You can hire all these things, of course, but then the costs, for the individual event, starts to mount up considerably. It is possible to engage one single company (such as a corporate events/activities agency), to do it all for you. But indeed, will you find one organisation to do it all, to your requirements, on your own premises, for any less than it would cost to hire a venue? And if your own premises are to be used, it's best to bear in mind that any organisation 'coming in' has a primary legal responsibility to the licensing authority, rather than to you. Conclusion To do it all yourself is something which is only advantageous in certain circumstances; there should be a good positive business case for doing it, which offsets the time energy and management attention that will have to go into making it happen.

Author: Gary Burgess

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