Over the last five years, the Association of Women in Events’ mission and purpose have been a beacon in the events community—a groundbreaking movement designed to elevate and celebrate the role of anyone who identifies as a woman in the events industry. The founders were resolute in their goals to shed light on disparities, effect the necessary change, have the tough conversations, and be fearless to achieve their purpose on behalf of all women in events.
On March 5, they successfully held their annual ELEVATE! conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The 150 participants were uplifted by the inspiring content and recharged to return home with their new knowledge. And then COVID-19 happened.
Rather than wither in despair, AWE views this as an opportunity to create a new community model to better align with the industry’s new normal. The AWE 501(c)(3) was built on a traditional association model, funded by membership dues, live events, partnerships and supplier sponsorships. In their board’s opinion, these revenue channels are not fair or sustainable in this new normal.
Many of AWE’s members have been laid off, furloughed, terminated or have taken a salary reduction. Says President Marie-Claire Andrews (pictured left), “The loss of live event revenues has financially devastated our partners and sponsors. We believe it would be irresponsible for AWE to hold our community to their financial commitments when the current unprecedented circumstances would not permit us to deliver on their expected AWE’s value proposition. Additionally, our community has redirected their collective energy to dealing with the fault of the crisis and their own personal priorities. Therefore, AWE has elected to pivot and proactively shift our energies towards our active online community. Through our social media channels, we will continue to support women, men and organizations with our vision of an inclusive community that empowers, elevates and advocates for all those who identify as women in the events industry, within which they flourish at all levels and in all roles.”
Effective May 1, AWE’s new community model, they will be:
• Refunding membership dues, paid after January 1, 2020, prorated beginning May 1 – returning those funds when their members need it the most.
• Releasing their partners and sponsors from their 2020 commitments, at a time when they are challenged to endeavor and reimagine the future for their company and employees.
• Eliminating all overhead expenses, including the costs of their CRM, marketing agency and administrative support.
• Dissolving the formal infrastructure and sunsetting the current legal association.
Andrews continues, “We hope that once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we will once again be able to meet face-to-face in 2021 and celebrate in new and unexpected ways, just as we did on March 5 this year. Will it look different? We are sure it will and perhaps that is a good thing. We’ve all been changed by this pandemic, but it has proven, together we are stronger.”
The community and movement will continue online on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The Association for Women in Events is an inclusive community dedicated to the professional advancement of all those who identify as women in all facets of the events industry. In 2015, they started a movement that was built by and for their inaugural members and board of directors. Since inception, their mission has received global support, spanning four continents. AWE aims to be a community that is inclusive and welcoming, collaborative and all-encompassing. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/AWEwomen1/