A new advocacy coalition to champion the common interests of U.S. exhibitions and conferences with legislators has been founded: Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA). This coalition of eight industry associations aims to promote the impact of the sector, drive general industry awareness, initiate legislation on behalf of business events, and work with partners globally as needed to maintain a favourable operating environment within the United States. Existing advocacy initiatives Go LIVE Together and Exhibitions Mean Business will continue under ECA and carry out their respective missions—Go LIVE Together in advocating for federal COVID-19 recovery funding and Exhibitions Mean Business in promoting the value of face-to-face and the economic impact of exhibitions at local, state and national levels. Sue Sung, SVP, Corporate Strategy at Freeman, will continue to serve as executive director of Go LIVE Together. ECA's organisational structure will also allow for the development of new advocacy campaigns as specific needs arise in the future.
The initial ECA board is comprised of:
- Cathy Breden, CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)
- Melissa Cherry, COO, Destinations International
- Jim Wurm, Executive Director, Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association (EACA)
- Chris Griffin, CEO of Crew XP, representing the Experiential Designers + Producers Association (EDPA)
- Bob Priest-Heck, CEO of Freeman, representing Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA)
- Megan Tanel, SVP of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, representing the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)
- Clifford "Rip" Rippitoe, CEO of San Diego Convention Center, representing the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM)
- Douglas Emslie, CEO of Tarsus Group, Hervé Sedky, CEO of Emerald X, Nancy Walsh, President, Americas of Informa Markets, Yancy Weinrich CGO, Americas of Reed Exhibitions, representing the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO).
"Through lessons learned with Go LIVE Together, Exhibitions Mean Business, and other efforts, we know that advocacy is an ongoing process, and not one that can be easily impacted by jumping in only when there is a crisis," said David Audrain, executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and co-president of ECA. "ECA will enable us to develop and maintain a long-term strategy to raise our industry's profile among policymakers, ultimately helping to move us forward."