Pride Month celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place more than 50 years ago. On the first anniversary of Stonewall, a peaceful protest was organized that would become an annual event celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, before blossoming into the large-scale Pride events and parades we see globally today.

As with so many events this year, the global pandemic resulted in many postponed or cancelled Pride celebrations. Additionally, the tragic murder of George Floyd has refocused some efforts normally put forth for Pride into protests demanding change, such as the recent march in Los Angeles in support of Trans people of color.

Action creates change

The progress we have made since Stonewall would not have happened without action. The action you are seeing in the anti-racism protests across the globe today, will transform into lasting change, just as they did on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

I’ve witnessed a lot of that change, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, and I look forward to the day that equal rights on every level are simply considered human rights. I’m happy today to work for a company that understands this. PSAV supports four business resource groups (BRGs):

  • Black and African Americans of PSAV
  • Pride at PSAV
  • Veterans at PSAV
  • Women of PSAV

The BRGs serve as internal supportive communities, providing personal connections and affiliation for its member​s who identify with or support others similar to themselves, and providing opportunities for growth and conversations amongst the larger organization.

This was recently echoed by our CEO Mike McIlwain in a statement on Diversity and Inclusion that encouraged our team members to reach out to the BRG heads to ask how they can help and better educate their teams, peers, friends and family. I think asking questions and truly listening as someone tells you about their experiences is an action anyone can take to create lasting change.

As the executive sponsor of the Pride at PSAV BRG, I’m happy to share my coming out story to get the conversation started. When I was younger, I thought, okay, all I have to do is say this once in my life, right?  To my parents, closest friends?  Just once?  Not a chance.  I started with my parents, who were compassionate and supportive, but as it turns out, you must come out over and over and over again. New job? Coming out. New friends? Coming out. New brother-in-law? Coming out.

As I’ve gotten older, my view of those conversations has altered. No longer do I view them as “checking the boxes” conversations, or answers just to fill someone’s curiosity. I view them as a chance to educate, to inform, to help break down a stereotype they might have had about the LGBTQ+ community. Twenty years on, I find those conversations enriching.  I feel proud of the woman I am today, and I feel honored sharing my coming out stories with others who ask.

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”– Harvey Milk

What I have come to learn, is that as a part of a diverse group in society, it is our responsibility to educate others, in other words, “be out.” If someone has a question about your race, gender identification, religion or sexual orientation, educate them. It might be what they need in that moment to change for the better. Don’t rely on others to do the work.

Get to know your neighbors, co-workers and customers. Talk to them, know their story, and in turn share yours. It will only make us better humans. Now my question to you is, whose story are you going to learn about today?

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and our current environment has introduced more challenges into our personal and professional lives than anyone could have predicted.   

Be it as a planner, partner, or provider in the live events industry, how do we continue to provide value to our customers in a time when we cannot meet face to face? For PSAV, we’ve rallied together through tremendous cross-functional collaboration, commitment and leadership, finding creative ways to adapt and engage in this very fluid environment.  

Professional EDge: Industry Education 

The desire to remain connected has never been stronger, and despite stay-at-home orders, we knew we could share thought leadership content that would provide a lasting benefit to our community by pivoting to virtual. 

As a result, our team is excited to introduce Professional EDge – our permanent platform for industry education! We kicked it off with Global Virtual Events Day on April 2, where we welcomed more than 13,000 unique visitors from 5countries. Our family of companies brought a team of digital experts to share real-life applications and solutions to help professionals plan, produce, and promote virtual events from start to finish.  

On April 7, we continued our interactive sessions with the launch of an eight-week series of webinars running through the end of May. Featuring great content from industry experts, all of these sessions are approved by the Events Industry Council for attendees to earn continuing education hours. 

Launching Professional EDge has been a bright spot for us. It’s a platform we always wanted to create but found difficult to prioritize amidst normal business levels. The sense of accomplishment that comes from finding new ways to evolve and elevate is a benefit we can all derive from great teamwork and creativity in our current environment. 

Chime Live Virtual Events Platform 

In a poll we recently conducted, more than one-third of meeting planners responded that the most daunting aspect of hosting a virtual event was audience engagement. With this in mind, we’re excited to introduce Chime Live, a new platform we’re using to host Professional EDge. Chime Live offers both a live webinar feed and a rich suite of interactive tools such as Polling, Notepad, UpVoter, ForumAsk a Question, Feedback Forms and Networking. It also provides users an engaging forum that lives on after the event. We want to learn what matters most to you, so we can continue to develop fresh content that resonates and brings even more value to Professional EDge.   

See the Possibilities 

Whether it’s through 3-D renderings from our Encore locationsthe use of Vision Templates or virtual site visits, we have aligned resources to help you ‘see’ the possibilities in all our venues. We’re using Microsoft Teams to collaborate and can pull in solution experts as needed to talk through your organization’s objectives and discuss options to create engaging experiences for your attendees – be they inperson, virtual or hybrid. 

By leveraging technology, we have thopportunity to remain connected unlike any generation before us that has gone through dark times. The internet may be our conduit, but our connections are no less genuine or valuable. If anything, we are all learning new ways to create value and engage, which will make those inperson moments even more impactful in the future. 

With the cold weather finally starting to make way for sunnier skies, we can’t help but get excited for spring, summer, and the fun that comes along with these warmer months. The onset of spring has us eager to ditch our winter coats and dreaming of music, food, and festivals. Here’s a guide to some of the great outdoor events this spring, happening in cities all across North America.

Houston

12th-Annual-Sugar-Land-Wine--Food-Affair-Bistro-Brunch_101220Calling all foodies! The annual Sugarland Wine and Food Affair is taking place April 8-12th this year in Houston. Attracting more than 10,000 wine and food connoisseurs every year, this great event is enjoyed by everyone – gourmands and non-foodies alike. Five days of flavour-bursting food paired with delicious wines, this fair is truly a culinary sensation. Buy your tickets, bring some friends along, and let yourself be wined and dined!

Washington

For nature lovers, just outside of the city at Mount Vernon lays a spring treasure to be found. From April 17-19th indulge your senses in the annual Tulip Festival’s Street Fair. While the Tulip Festival is a month long show, the street fair takes place this specific weekend drawing in artists, vendors and crafts people. Experience great fare and fun, along with the stunning tulips on display. If you’re searching for a perfect outdoor event this spring, you must check out Mount Vernon!

Banff

banff-performance-in-the-parkIf you’re a music enthusiast, Banff’s Performance in the Park takes place Friday, June 19th and Saturday, June 20th! Friday evening you can enjoy Joel Plaskett Emergency with Matt Anderson and the Mellotones, and Saturday afternoon you’ll hear K-OS with Rural Alberta Advantage and Hannah Georgas play. With the mountains as your backdrop and the music filling your ears, you don’t need to be anywhere else this weekend.

Atlanta

For beer and beats, check out the Sweetwater 420 Fest in Atlanta. Running from April 17-19th at Centennial Olympic Park, you’ll spend the weekend enjoying 25 unique craft beers while jamming out to some great music. Look forward to performances by Snoop Dogg, 311, Moe, and many more amazing artists and bands. Don’t miss the comedy tent as well, with hilarious stand-up acts to give you some laughs throughout the day. This packed weekend will be a great kick-off for a summer full of music and drinks.

If you’re not excited about winter’s exit, this list of upcoming outdoor events should do it! Contact us for a quote or information on planning your own event!

 

We’re back with a quick guide to some events happening this winter in some of our favourite cities! While the winter months may not be cold for everyone, the countdown to summer seems to be forever on our minds. Distract yourself with some fun events in your own city, or take a weekend getaway to a neighbouring town. The cold doesn’t have to keep you indoors this winter. Check out the list below and have snow much fun!

Woman staring at ice sculpture

New Orleans, Louisiana:
You’ve probably guessed it! One of the most notorious events is happening in February this year in New Orleans – Mardi Gras! A festival that has really put New Orleans on the map, this outrageous event will be sure to have you planning annual trips. The parade starts on January 31st and goes until Mardi Gras day which is February 15th this year. There are a plethora of events leading up to Mardi Gras, as well as tons of dazzling parties after the parade. Grab a bejewelled mask, have a king cake, and let the good times roll! Check out this guide to help you get up to speed with the local jargon.

Mardi Gras Celebration

Hamilton, Ontario:
Winterfest is hitting the Hammer this February! Come check out some frosty delights from February 7th to 16th and enjoy winter like never before. Promoting community cohesiveness and support of local talent, hibernation isn’t a term known to Hamiltonians. Some highlights from this weeklong celebration include the Waterfront Festival of Lights, Darkroom Workshops, Knitting and Crocheting for Charity, a Winter Beard Competition, and much more! If you’ve never been to Hamilton before, now is the perfect time to go and see the city in full stride.

Blue Christmas Ornament

Prince George, British Columbia:

The 2015 Winter Games are coming to Prince George in British Columbia! Running from February 13th to March 1st, these Canadian Winter games are all about embracing the cold weather and getting outside to enjoy sports such as skiing, curling, and biathlon! So if you love sports and you love Canadian winters, gather around to watch Canada’s champions achieve their personal best and provide the most memorable Winter Games yet!

Quebec City, Quebec:

For over 60 years, the Quebec Winter Carnival or Carnaval de Quebec has provided a celebration of the winter months, with fun events to get you through those winter blues. From February 3 – 15 attend events such as snow sculpture competitions, flapjack breakfasts, and tour Bonhomme’s Ice Palace! There’s plenty to do to keep the chill away in Quebec!

You must be busy filling in your calendar now – winter has a whole new outlook. Enjoy these events, and if you’re planning your own event, contact us for audiovisual information and quotations.