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REACH events scholarship launched

by Louisa Daley

A new university scholarship initiative has been launched to encourage people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds into the events industry.

The REACH events scholarship initiative has been launched by an events industry task force to provide a fund for students to study on events management degree programmes, providing a £5,000 a year scholarship to support with living expenses.

REACH is an acronym of race, ethnicity and cultural heritage.

The aim is for the first scholarships to be available for students on Manchester Metropolitan University’s BA (Hons) Events Management degree programme in September 2022. The scholarships would support more Black, Asian, and minority ethnic students onto the course and into the events industry.

The scholarship initiative has been launched by an industry task force led by Robert Kenward, Event First Steps, and Diversity Ally. The companies that have already pledged to donate are DRPG, The Hub, TRO, Smyle and Mash Media who are pledging £3 for every visitor to International Confex 2021.

The task force is now calling on more events industry companies to support the initiative.

Robert Kenward, founder of The Hub, said: “Only 3.5%* of our industry is from a Black or minority ethnic background, whilst 6%* is from an Asian background, and although I have been a recruiter and eventprof for over 21 years, I can count on two hands the number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic event people I have worked with and on one hand at a senior level.

“The initiative was created because I wanted to take action and actually achieve something that would have a lasting and tangible impact on our industry. The pandemic has already meant we have lost many event professionals who now see our industry as just too risky, so we need to act now to ensure that working in events is an attractive and accessible proposition for all young people. We are calling for companies to get on board and pledge £5,000 a year for three years. We need to have the funds in place by March 2022 so that Manchester Met can award students looking to start their courses in September 2022. We have launched this with Manchester Met but we will be rolling the REACH scholarship out to other universities too in the future.”

Gabby Austen-Browne, co-founder of Diversity Ally, commented: “It’s no secret I’m incredibly passionate about diversity and inclusion in events. My mission when I founded Diversity Ally was to help the industry become more diverse, inclusive, and accessible. To change the industry for the next generation of event professionals, leaving a legacy of equality for all. The REACH scholarship initiative will help make the events industry more accessible to Black, Asian, and minority ethnic talent who might not normally have access to enter our sector, directly addressing the issue of the event industry talent pipeline. I’m so excited and very proud to be part of this initiative.”

Priya Narain, co-founder and director of Event First Steps, said: “Our core focus has always been about the next generation of event professionals entering the industry and ensuring that our pillars of access and route to the industry as well as the diversity of the industry are always at the forefront. The REACH scholarship is the perfect opportunity to practice what we preach and help create a more diverse industry from the grassroot level.”

Jonathan Sibley, senior lecturer in Events Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, added: “We are excited to be the first university to be in the position to establish the new REACH events scholarship. The provision of this opportunity adds to existing scholarships, within the University, that seek to improve diversity within the creative industries; further emphasising our commitment to enhancing diversity within the events industry as well as seeking to deliver a high-quality education experience that effectively prepares future event professionals.”

Companies that are interested in making a positive and long-term impact to D&I in the industry can contact Gabby Austen-Browne (Gabby@DiversityAlly.co.uk) or Robert Kenward (Robert@TheHub.jobs) for more information.

Visitors to International Confex can find out more at the Diversity Ally Stand: D22C.

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