Spilling the Beans

So now you know. There won’t be a Scale ModelWorld in 2020.

For several months we continued to work towards the goal of running an event in November that despite all the restrictions we expected to have to deal with, would be worthy of being called Scale ModelWorld. It was clear it would be a smaller event, more spaced out, fewer traders, less people and lots of strict traffic flow. Even so, it became increasingly clear to everyone that we were fighting against the tide and it became less and less likely that a show of any description would be possible.

The downside of running one of, if not the largest model show in the world is everything that comes with it is large as well; large financial commitments, large commercial venues, large multi-year contracts; and all of that means larger risks to be considered and accepted in order to stage the jamboree we call Scale ModelWorld.

The single most frightening challenge we faced was the knowledge that if we made the wrong call at the wrong time we would face tens of thousands of pounds in cancellation fees, as well as breaking the contract we had with the venue. Our relationship with The International Centre (TIC) is strong and very positive, but this was a legally binding contract and in the commercial world, there is little room for generosity, especially if your own survival as a business relies on continued income and cash flow.

The last few weeks have been spent working with TIC to find a solution that would allow us both to get where we needed to be, a task not made easier by the fact that virtually all the critical staff at TIC have been furloughed. We achieved that. It means our deposit for 2020 is carried over to 2021, giving TIC some income and stability in the these uncertain times but also securing our 2021 booking. It also allows IPMS (UK) the opportunity to walk away from the existing contract and avoid the huge cancellation fees we faced. In return, we are committing to another three years at TIC.

It has been tough at times to stay quiet as we watched the speculation and comments appear on social media and other internet forums. Some of the online comments were naïve at best, whilst others showed a clear understanding of the challenges we were faced with. As with so many discussions in the commercial world, we couldn’t offer any re-assurance or certainty until we had a final agreement in place.

But we’re there now and we can breathe a sigh of relief. What the next 12 months will hold remains to be seen. We’ll start planning towards Scale ModelWorld 2021 but it is still unclear what sort of show it might be. I seriously doubt it will look identical to previous events. The influence of Covid 19 is pernicious and its consequences will continue to affect our lifestyles for months to come. We need to adapt our planning for Scale ModelWorld to ensure we retain the critical elements that make it the sort of show we know and love. It will need the help and understanding of everyone who attends to make it workable, but if the level of positive support we have received in recent weeks from our members is anything to go by, you already know that.

John Tapsell
IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer