Support for the creative economy

Supplementary written evidence submitted by PLASA [SCE 086a]

On 26 March 2013 I gave evidence to your committee's inquiry into support for the Creative Industries. During my evidence I highlighted the negative impact on PLASA's members of the Olympics 'no marketing' protocols, which prevent companies involved in supplying the Games from promoting that fact. I also highlighted the unsatisfactory nature of the solution presented by the government-the Suppliers Recognition Scheme (SRS). The categories established by the SRS are so broad as to still exclude many of the companies represented by PLASA which contributed significantly to making the Games such a success.

Recently I wrote to Secretary of State Maria Miller to highlight my concerns regarding the operation of the SRS. As you showed interest in this particular issue during my evidence, and kindly offered to explore the ways in which you could help, I wanted to bring this letter, and a subsequent reply from the Rt. Hon. Hugh Robertson, to your attention. Both are included with this letter.

I feel that the Government's answer is still unsatisfactory. The incredible work of British companies involved in the Olympics is a key aspect of the legacy of the Games. It should be an opportunity for British companies to promote themselves at home and abroad, providing significant economic benefit to the Creative Industries and UK in general. Instead, many of my members have to remain silent about their achievements. Mr Robertson draws attention to the differentiation drawn between suppliers of equipment and those who operated it, the former being excluded and the latter included in the SRS. This has meant, for example, that PLASA members who supplied key lighting to the Olympic Stadium have been forced to remain silent about their achievements because a major sponsor produces similar lighting-even if that sponsor did not actually supply any form of lighting to the Games.

It is important to note that it is mostly SMEs, whose growth is so vital to the economic recovery of the UK and the continued success of the Creative Industries, which are suffering because of the 'no marketing' protocols and the subsequent inadequacies of the SRS. These companies, lacking big budgets for advertising and promotion, rely on being able to promote their previous work to secure new commissions.

June 2013


Letter from PLASA to the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State, DCMS, 4 March 2013

At the end of January you announced that suppliers to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games would at last be able to capitalise on the crucial role they played in making the Games a success. I was delighted that the British companies which brought the Games to life would now be able to publicise their involvement and promote their work at home and abroad.

It has now become clear that far too many companies are still being prevented from benefiting from their involvement. Suppliers whose goods and services are within "business categories" covered by IOC sponsors are still excluded from the scheme. These "businesses categories" have been drawn so broad with no refinement, that small British companies with a legitimate case for inclusion in the Supplier Recognition Scheme are being prevented from publicising their involvement to protect huge multi-national companies.

PLASA operates across the live events, entertainment and installation industries representing the leading providers of entertainment technologies, including professional audio, AV, lighting, projection, staging, special effects and related disciplines. The professionals in this sector rank among the most talented in the world, maximizing developments in technology and communications to produce highly innovative and ground-breaking products.

Our Members' were central to the success of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the success of the competition events at the Olympic Park and other venues. They developed the most memorable moments in the ceremonies; from the fiery appearance of the iconic Olympic rings in the Opening Ceremony, to the 70,500 LED Tablets placed at every seat to integrate the audience into the projection element of the shows.

Yet, many of our Members are now prevented from registering with the Supplier Recognition Scheme because they fall under the broad categories of "industrial and commercial equipment and systems" (which includes "industrial lighting fixtures and systems") and "audio, video and audio-visual equipment, recording devices, navigation equipment and cameras".

These arbitrary categories need to be urgently refined and reduced, to ensure the greatest numbers of British firms are able to publicise their work at the Games. This measure is designed to protect multi-national companies at the expense of those British companies who worked so hard to make the Games a success. Our members work in the creative industries. They are not competitors to Panasonic and GE, the firms these rules are trying to protect. However, the lack of nuance in the scheme is automatically ruling them out of building on their successes.

Far from allowing British firms to publicise their involvement, the Supplier Recognition Scheme is making it as difficult as possible for suppliers to gain the acknowledgment they deserve. This needs to be resolved urgently, before the benefit of the Olympic Legacy is lost for these suppliers.


Letter to PLASA from Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and Tourism, DCMS, 25 April 2013

Thank you for your further letter of 4 March, to the Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, on behalf of your members who wish to promote their work on London 2012 both at home and abroad.

In my reply to you in October, I mentioned that we wish to do all we can to ensure that London 2012 suppliers can showcase what they have achieved in helping to stage the Games. Every London 2012 supplier played an important part in the success of the Games and we recognise that many suppliers want to be in a position to share their experiences when bidding for and working on future projects.

As you may know, all suppliers continue to be able to make limited factual references to the work they have undertaken on the Games, under a protocol operated by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) since 2007 and updated in 2010. Under that protocol, all suppliers can, for example, make reference to their 2012 work in client lists and pitch and tender documents.

Since the Games, the British Olympic Association (BOA) has worked intensively with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to identify the maximum scope for suppliers to be able to promote the goods and services they provided to the 2012 Games. This resulted in the new Supplier Recognition Scheme (SRS), launched by the BOA in January 2013. In developing that scheme, the IOC and BOA had to strike a balance between the interests of London 2012 suppliers both in the UK and globally and the need not to infringe the rights of worldwide Olympic sponsors, whose support is essential to the future of the Olympic and Paralympic movement.

This does mean that certain categories of business are excluded, but I am satisfied that the IOC and BOA have sought to keep those exclusions to a minimum. What's more, the BOA is very willing to reconsider applications and in a number of cases, where clarification has been provided, have been able to overturn their decision and approve a licence application.

As far as the entertainment technologies sector is concerned, I understand from the BOA that a number of 2012 suppliers have been issued with a licence, while others have been excluded. That this is so reflects the fact that the scheme distinguishes between suppliers who provided audio, video and audio-visual equipment, and those who provided services in relation to that equipment-services such as installation, production or engineering services. In order to ensure that the rights of worldwide Olympic sponsors are not infringed, the former category is excluded from the SRS, whereas suppliers in the latter category remain eligible. All can continue to make factual statements regarding their supply to the Games, for example, in client lists and pitch and tender documents.

I understand that the fact that exclusions must remain in place is a frustration for some suppliers, but given the rights of the worldwide Olympic sponsors some limitations on the Recognition Scheme are inevitable. I would strongly encourage any supplier who is in doubt about their eligibility to contact the BOA for clarification.

I hope it is clear from this letter that the BOA and IOC have tried to be as flexible as possible in order to support suppliers, given the legal constraints upon them.

The BOA will continue to consider applications on a case-by-case basis to establish whether suppliers are eligible for a licence, and are very willing to discuss, explain and provide clarification on individual applications. So far, since 27 January 2013, some 537 licences have been granted, 118 refused, and 44 are under consideration.

Thank you, again, for writing, with all my very best wishes.

Prepared 18th June 2013