EVA plans merger with AEV

The Association of Event Venues (AEV) has thrown a lifeline to rival trade body the Exhibition Venues Association (EVA) by starting talks to merge the two organisations.

The proposal to fold EVA into the AEV was tabled for consideration at EVA's AGM on 20 September in Harrogate.

Acting EVA chair Paul Lewis, director at the Harrogate International Centre, said: "We have taken the decision in principle to merge with the AEV subject to discussions on a number of issues. I am convinced these can be negotiated and we'll have one singular organisation representing this area of the industry."

EVA's future was thrown into doubt earlier this year when Birmingham's NEC withdrew its membership (Event, March).

The departure of the 200,000sqm venue left EVA without its largest financial contributor, as membership fees are based on each venue's size.

The NEC Group chief executive Andrew Morris is a key supporter of the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) and its ideal of one voice for one industry. Following his appointment to the NEC Group in January, Morris switched the venue's allegiance from EVA to the AEO's sister body, the AEV.

AEV director Tim Banfield said: "I am delighted EVA members have voted in principle to merge with the AEV.

"I and the AEV board look forward to building on the relationships we have developed over the past few months and working more closely to bring the venue community together."

EVA's Lewis said: "We are currently talking to the AEV about setting up a series of meetings to clarify certain points. I am confident these can be sorted before the end of the year."

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