Black Sparrow Presents

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Black Sparrow Presents's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Black Sparrow Presents is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Kat Mackenzie, managing director
Vans Downtown Showdown
Amsterdam 2013
Situated in Waterloo, London, and specialising in events, Black
Sparrow Presents is a young company both in itself and in
terms of its body of staff. Black Sparrow Presents deliver
unforgettable consumer experience through the manifestation
of the brands they represent. At the very core of the company is
the belief that a brand is not done justice until it can be “felt”,
a value that serves as the foundation of the company and a vital
thread that runs through everything they do. The key exponent
of this view is Black Sparrow Presents’ managing director,
KatMackenzie, whose voice features in the following article.
Bringing life to brands
In its simplest form, my company specialises in creating physical representations
of the brands who use our services. Naturally, this comes in the form of events, of
which the most prominent example is the House of Vans: a free-to-enjoy brand
experience space situated in Waterloo. Our goal is to bring people into the world of
the brand: to immerse them fully, and have them experience the brand and what
it fundamentally represents. To do these brands justice requires continual creativity
and attention to detail. To create a physical embodiment of the brand we have to
first live and breathe the brand ourselves, acquainting ourselves with all elements of
it and the culture within which it thrives. Creating an authentic experience, after all,
requires a genuine appreciation and understanding from the creators themselves.
Because our focus for House of Vans is directly involved in the action sports
industry, our staff is heavily comprised of people who either participate in these
»Managing director:
»Established in 2010
»Based in Waterloo, London
»Services: Experiential agency
»No. of employees: 20
»We created and run the House
of Vans venue in Waterloo,
»We execute events in every
major European market
Black Sparrow
Highlighting best practice
sports or otherwise have an active
and enduring interest in them. This is
a USP for us and ensures we deliver
an engaging experience that will
resonate with the core audience. It’s
not just demonstrating the sports
aspect, though. We also bring other
experiential elements to the mix such
as live music from globally renowned
artists including Foo Fighters and
Metallica – something that truly
brings these events to life and
increases engagement enormously.
If a picture says a thousand words,
our experiences say incalculably
more. Moreover, we do this in the
order of 200 times a year – a major
To cite once more our flagship case
study, the House of Vans venue – now
a permanent fixture that has attracted
over 250,000 visitors since opening
– takes place in a 30,000-square-
foot space, and has within it an art
gallery, music venue and skate park, in
addition to cafes, bars and a cinema.
The whole event is a free community
space where the consumer could visit
and interact with everything, all with
a view to imbuing them with a sense
of what Vans is all about: creative
expression, skating, music and being
part of a community. It’s not just
about serving the brands; it’s also
about providing a fun and engaging
experience for all in the vicinity. At the
Vans space, for instance, people can
learn to skateboard and participate in
gigs, all free of cost.
Bringing my company to life
In addition to bringing brands to life,
it’s worth also talking briefly about
how my company came to life. I
started the company in 2010 after
having worked in events management
for other companies, not least Red Bull
and its numerous sports and music
events. During this time I established
many contacts who would later help
me on my journey. Indeed, it was
because of my time in this role that
Vans became my principal client.
Istarted the company on my own
as the sole trader and it has grown
organically ever since.
The increasing digitisation of the
world has led to an increasing need
for brands to exist in the eyes of
the consumer in this manner. We
believed (and still do) that there is
great opportunity by creating tangible
experiences and long-lasting memories
for consumers. The value of experience
is the reward we deliver for our clients.
As lives are increasingly experienced
on a screen or through a lens, we
see a cultural shift where tangible
experiences are increasingly yearnedfor.
Sessions at House of
Vans London
Dizzee Rascal at Vans’
50th anniversary at
House of Vans
Creating an
requires a genuine
appreciation and
from the creators
Peoplewanttosee, feel and touch
things for themselves – therein lies the
real experience. Indeed, we believe this
sector still has within it the potential to
grow yetfurther.
Hurdles to leap
There are still challenges. Our base is
in London, one of the most exciting
cities on the planet. Londoners are
treated to a deluge of amazing
experiences and we have to fight every
day for our share of the voice. Life is
also speeding up around us; people
consume information and experiences
in a rapid and fleeting manner so it’s
of paramount importance that we
understand how to grab and retain
the attention of the public. Staying
relevant and on the crest of emerging
cultural interests is crucial to our
success and is a company-wide priority
at Black Sparrow Presents. It’s also
about growth: finding how to engage
with newer and wider audiences and
finding out how our clients can exist
in their world and their interests. This
imperative comes directly from the
client and we need to be delivering
quantifiable return on investment
Some of the more political challenges
we face are those relating to Brexit.
Our scope of work takes us all around
Europe and our staff is composed as
such. The repercussions of Brexit for
Black Sparrow Presents are not yet
clear, but we are mindful that we
will be impacted in some sense. As a
supplier in Europe, we also need more
clarity on how leaving the European
Union will affect businesses like ours.
These are, nonetheless, hurdles we will
leap confidently over. I’m profoundly
optimistic about the future of the
events industry. It will not just survive,
but thrive and evolve in interesting
and unpredictable ways. One of the
reasons I believe this will happen is
that people are becoming increasingly
interested in improving their physical
health and trying things out in the real
world – we, in turn, can offer events
that cater to this trend in the form of
sports-related experiences.
Moreover, the audience for niche
action sports is growing rapidly, which
will further attract people to our
events. I am hugely proud to be able
to participate globally in this industry
in a major way from London, and am
always excited by new developments
in this sector. I’m pleased to say I’m
every bit as passionate about this
industry as I was the day I started.
All we need is people to share this
passion so that we can continue in our
upward direction.
I am profoundly
optimistic about
the future of the
events industry.
Itwill not just
survive, but thrive
and evolve in
interesting and
Skateboarding at House
of Vans
Vans Hi-Standard Series
snowboarding contest

This article was sponsored by Black Sparrow Presents. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy