Events in times of pandemics: just crises or even opportunities?

18 Mai 2021  —  Focus  —  von Luca Grassi
Roberto Badaracco, Municipal Councilor of the City of Lugano since 2016, Head of the Culture, Sport and Events Department, answers some questions on the challenges of the sector, underlining the importance of events and advancing scenarios for the future.

Hon. Badaracco, what can you tell us about the world of congresses and events after more than one year of pandemic and health restrictions?

For the entire events and congresses sector, 2020 was a period of great challenges, precisely due to the very nature of events, as an aggregation of people in a limited physical space. After an initial phase of total closure, required to confront the surge in the pandemic, the City has taken up the challenge by rethinking and implementing new platforms of public events, conferences and seminars. Undoubtedly, digital technology has addressed the needs of the sector, giving life to new forms of meetings, the so-called "hybrid" events (with participants both physically present and online), as well as the "virtual" ones (totally online). I would like to particularly emphasize the great work done by our staff, who have rethought all conference spaces in order to make them both safe and innovative, as well as proposing new procedures to the organizers, keeping alive the network between online and in-person participants, and giving the proper inputs to service and logistics providers.

One challenge after another that made us reconsider the concept of "event" more widely, much more inclusive and accessible to everyone. Indeed, I am convinced that this hybrid mode will become a new normal in the future. Nevertheless, I look forward to a return to “face to face” meetings in a short time, because I strongly believe that they are and will always be irreplaceable.

Thinking about the return to post-covid normality, what are the short-term projects and initiatives the City of Lugano is working on?

First of all, we took advantage of this period of less activity to carry out various renovations inside our venues: not only at the Palazzo dei Congressi (new digital signage, a brand-new website, staging of some rooms), but also in other buildings such as the Ex-Asilo Ciani, which will reopen completely renovated at the end of the year.

Regarding the events for the general public, at LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura) we set up a programme of both hybrid and totally online events, which were greatly appreciated by the public who have been able to enjoy, albeit from home through diverse digital channels, numerous shows and concerts of international level.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the new version of the Lugano Card, which has now become MyLugano Card for residents and MyLugano Pass for tourists. These new cards, now in a fully digital version, allow holders to get discounts and promotions in shops, restaurants, museums, training courses, as well as cultural and recreational events. By using them, people can collect points to be used as if they were money. Therefore, Lugano with its brand-new city cards is ready, together with over 250 partners, to receive citizens and guests in squares, bars, restaurants, shops as well as in its recreational, entertainment and sports facilities as soon as the situation allows it.

Municipal infrastructure is precisely the topic that gives us the cue for the last question: what can you tell us about the big projects that the City is working on?

As Head of the Culture, Sport and Events Department of the City of Lugano, I will focus on my area of expertise: as you know, there are two major projects that the City has in the pipeline: the new Sports and Events Centre and the Congress Centre. On these two large areas, Lugano aims to have state-of-the-art facilities in terms of logistics, technology and utilization by the public. For the first one, the project has already been presented and approved by the City Council. A new stadium is included, with all related services, as well as the redevelopment of the entire Cornaredo district (North Lugano Area).

The Congress Centre, conceived as an extremely modular and functional structure, will be able to host events, fairs and congresses, even simultaneously. Among other things, it will be equipped with a convenient and ample parking, several recreational and dining spaces both outdoors and indoors. In short, a modern structure, easily accessible and suitable for all seasons.