Panel Discussion - Festivals & events post-covid: 6 months on

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A special follow-up panel discussion to ask cultural specialists... What has changed and what have we learnt so far during the pandemic?

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Throughout 2020 Empty Shop CIC delivered a series of life-after-covid sessions with cultural sector experts as part of Great Place Tees Valley. Six months on from our first session, we return with a special follow-up panel discussion to ask what has changed and what have we learnt?

In that first session we invited Paul Gudgin, former director of Edinburgh Fringe, to talk about the future for festivals & events - and how previous crises have led to bounce backs in the sector.

Read Paul's commissioned think-piece here and watch the original session here

For this follow up session we invite Paul back to chair a conversation with a panel of international cultural specialists including Bridget MacIntosh, Annabel Turpin and Eric Stuart for what should be a fascinating and insightful conversation.

Sign up for a free space and we'll send you a video link in advance of the session.

You will be able to submit questions during the webinar but If you would like to ask any questions in advance, please email them to

Commissioned by Hartlepool Borough Council and delivered in collaboration with Hartlepool Creatives - all welcome.


Panellist Information:

Bridget MacIntosh has held senior cultural policy and programming management positions with the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Hamilton with portfolios spanning arts, events, public art and cultural planning. Notable accomplishments include the creation of the City of Hamilton’s Events Office where she led the design and delivery of numerous city-wide celebrations and extensive community engagement to develop a support system to facilitate 400+ annual creative placemaking, community and tourism events.

As a Cultural Strategist, her consultancy work includes piloting Mass Culture’s Digital Gatherings to bring together Canadian cultural practitioners to discuss sectoral issues; leading Toronto-based art in public space activation and research in partnership with Art of Festivals; management work with major events such as Nuit Blanche (Toronto); public art best practice research and analysis for the City of Port Moody, cultural planning / program development work for the City of Brampton and Town of Milton and presenting CAPACOA’s Diversity & Drivers of Arts Attendance research and navigation for their Linked Digital Future project to foster digital collaboration and readiness in the performing arts sector.

As a passionate arts advocate, Bridget’s has contributed to numerous committees and boards with organizations such as the Canadian Arts Coalition; Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Leadership Council, Festivals and Events Ontario, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and foldA (Festival of Live Digital Arts).

She has shared her award-winning expertise and experiences as a frequent guest speaker at numerous conferences, educational institutions, and mentorship programs. She has been named a Top 40 Under 40 Hamilton Business Leader, a NextCity Vanguard Fellow, is a member of the Creative City Network of Canada and a Toronto Arts Council / Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow.



Annabel Turpin is Chief Executive & Artistic Director of ARC in Stockton on Tees, one of the North East’s largest arts venues. She co-chairs Future Arts Centres , a national network of100+ arts centres, committed to championing their artistic and social contribution to the cultural and civic life of UK towns and cities.

She is a board member of Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, Sunderland Culture Company and the North East Culture Partnership, where she has helped develop the region’s Case for Culture strategy. She currently chairs the independent Tees Valley Creative & Visitor Economy Task Force, established by the Tees Valley Mayor.She launched and chairs Venues North, a group of 40+ venues from across the greater North committed to helping artists get their work seen more widely. She has produced and toured work nationally with artists including writers Patrick Gale, Jackie Kay and Jonathan Coe; spoken word artists Kate Fox and Michael Edwards; and theatre-makers Daniel Bye, Scott Turnbull and Luca Rutherford.

Her consultancy work includes organisational development for a range of clients, including theatre companies, venues and local authorities, as well as mentoring and facilitation at both executive and board level.

Previously she was Director of Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead from 2002-2006, and Events Manager at Warwick Arts Centre.@annabelturpin


Paul Gudgin has spent 30 years working with festivals of all shapes and sizes. including the Aldeburgh Festival, City of London Festival, Durham International Brass Festival and 8 years as the Director of the world’s largest arts festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

As well as working on events Paul now spends much of his time working with festival and event managers in several countries presenting workshops and programmes to pass on the benefit of his experience.



Eric Stuart QPM, BA, is the director of Gentian Events and the Chair of the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA). He is a Crowd Safety Manager for events ranging from summer festivals and concerts through to Edinburgh Hogmanay and is also engaged with crowd management at many complex ‘crowded space’ environments including large shopping centres and religious gatherings across the US, Canada and the UK.

He holds a FdA and BA in Crowd Safety Management and was the co-author of the 2015 UK Good Practice Guide to working in Safety Advisory Groups. He also supported the UK Government Cabinet Office ‘EPC’ in its rewrite and re-launch in 2019. He has supported crowd management operations of 600,000 in Vancouver, at St Patrick’s Day in Toronto, and the largest Diwali celebrations outside India in Leicester, UK.

He has been involved in Crowd Safety for 17 years and was the planning lead for Notting Hill Carnival 1.1 million, London New Year’s Eve of 450k and the 70-day London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, viewed by an estimated 14 million people. He delivers Crowd Safety Management training in Europe, the USA and Canada. Most recently he supported the US Event Safety Alliance in their successful efforts to launch an ANSI Standard for Crowd Management which was approved and launched in 2020.

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