Thirty-four national trophies were handed out in front of 300 members of Australia’s events industry, with the ceremony providing a peek under the hood of the exceptional work taking place throughout business, corporate and public events in Australia and by Australians working in the industry overseas.
In his judges’ report which kicked off the evening’s formalities, co-chair of the judging panel, Peter Rix – founder of the Aria Awards, former managing director of George P Johnson Australia and current artist manager – said it had been “a pretty good year” for the industry, particularly when considered alongside the pandemic years.
“We come together tonight – as guests for a change – to celebrate all that is good about the events industry: the creativity, the pragmatism, the people, the venues, the treasured suppliers and most importantly, for those that are gathered in this room, the moment of risk and reward that we all live with every day,” he said.
“Let’s not forget the extraordinary diversity as well of skills and business ingenuity that all of you, every day of your working life simply have to do to survive. What an interesting year it has been. It is wonderful to see so many people from different parts of Australia and across the various facets of the business all coming together.
“For me the experience of judging the awards this year was eye opening to say the least and drives home just how good the business has become. I have not ever previously seen entries of the quality that was observed across the board this year.”
Rix highlighted the challenges in judging the awards where results were close. The 31 judges on this year’s panel spent a collective 400 hours determining the finalists and winners across two rounds of judging.
“As a finalist in any one of the categories, you should be extremely proud. The outstanding level of entry has made for a very very difficult process of decision in many of these award categories. There are 300 odd people in this room tonight and only 34 trophies,” he said.
“If you are a nominee but don’t get the trophy, please don’t get the shits,” he said dryly, to much laughter.
“Don’t take it personally – the judges had a difficult job on many of the categories and the final decisions went down to the wire.”
The range of winner amongst an impressive sea of finalists was proof that every nominee is in with a chance, no matter how prolific the competition.
Joondalup Festival 2023, held in a suburb of Perth, pipped record-breaking iterations of Vivid Sydney and the Adelaide Fringe, as well as the National Multicultural Festival and Carmen on Cockatoo Island to win Best Cultural, Arts or Music Event.
Meanwhile, cleaning and waste management business Clean Vibes won Best Service Company of the Year, as the only entrant who qualified as a finalist, then proceeded to also take out Event Supplier of the Year, beating Phenomenon Event Services, Intelligent Risks, Stagekings, Table Art and RAC Arena in Perth, who were each victorious in the other supplier categories.
The big winners of the night included Sydney WorldPride which picked up Best Charity or Cause-Related Event and Best Congress or Conference 500 Delegates or Over for its human rights conference and Vivid Sydney, which took home Best Tourism Event, while Mandylights won Best Technical Achievement for their work on Dark Spectrum which was one of the most talked-about installations at Vivid.
Stagekings picked up New Event Product of the Year for their new WAVE 55 temporary structure and Production Company of the Year.
Artists in Motion took home Best Export for their body of international work and Best Achievement in Design for their work on the closing ceremony of the Dubai World Cup.
ICMS Australasia took out Best PCO in a battle against one of the other major players in the space, Arinex, as well as winning Event Management Company of the Year, beating the winners of the other three event management categories.
“During the qualification period we had one of our largest years on record, managing and delivering 16 conferences attended by more than 12,000 delegates and with a direct economic impact of over $20 million for our exceptional suppliers,” said ICMS Australia’s owner and managing director Emma Bowyer, following the company’s wins.
“I have to thank my wonderful team across our four offices, now including Christchurch, for their outstanding work across so many diverse sectors and specialisations.”
The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2023 took out OnePlan Best Sporting Event and was awarded Australian Event of the Year, as the best of the 14 event category winners.
And fittingly for the business events industry, the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) took home the Best Exhibition or Trade Show category which returned to the awards pool in 2023. Silke Calder, AIME’s event director, was delighted with the win, after the event took out Best Congress, Conference or Exhibition and Australian Event of the Year at the 2022 Awards last November.
See the full list of winners on the Australian Event Awards website.