Bank of England’s Pioneering Open Forum, London

For the first time on November 11th 2015, the Bank of England staged an Open Forum at London’s Guildhall.  To map a positive future for financial markets, the event brought together policymakers, financial market participants and users, academics, media representatives and wider society. Chosen by ballot, 400 delegates attended the Forum which aimed to promote openness within the sector. Metro Broadcast was engaged to produce various aspects of the pioneering event including full technical design, conference production, provision of equipment, content management, location filming, live-to-camera recording and two-way satellite broadcasts across three locations.


The Forum included plenary sessions featuring the most prominent people in the sector including the Rt Hon Lord Mayor of London, Alan Yarrow; Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney; the Rt Hon George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank.  
Optimising the reach of the event, the Bank of England hosted simultaneous events in Birmingham and Edinburgh which Metro linked to the main venue by satellite.    The central event at Guildhall was filmed by Metro and then shared with television news channels for immediate broadcast and uploaded to the Bank of England’s YouTube channel.  

In order to co-ordinate all elements of the production, Metro utilised skills across the business incorporating lighting, stage design and build, audio visual expertise, production management, film and video, logistics and Health & Safety.  Scotland-based sister company Metro Ecosse looked after the regional events, location filming and editing of vox pop interviews.  As content for the breakout sessions, Metro Ecosse also filmed and edited interviews with senior officials from around the world.

Concept and staging

Since medieval times, London’s Guildhall has been a place where people have come together to solve problems.  The magnificent Great Hall was chosen by the Bank to stage the main event.  While paying tribute to the majestic venue and respecting rigid health & safety guidelines, it was Metro Broadcast’s job to create a contemporary event setting with an open and inclusive atmosphere in one of London’s oldest meeting houses.

Metro’s design team aimed to create an effect which allowed the audience and speakers to feel connected by removing the constraints of traditional staging; the podium area projected outwards from a low stage into the audience which was seated around it in theatre-style.  This arrangement gave the appearance that speakers were positioned in the heart of the room, taking questions from all sides.  The gigantic stage backdrop spanned almost the length of the room, and comprised an enormous single 40x9ft screen.  This not only created a powerful backcloth but became a practical solution for conveying graphics, film and other content live to camera and in such a wide space.

Breakout sessions were held in the Print Room, Livery Hall and the Old Library.  Each breakout room was similarly themed for continuity with a wide set to accommodate a host and panel of speakers. Each stage incorporated a screen capable of projecting video stings, PowerPoint and a live camera feed.

Presentation technologies

Content used during the Forum came from a range of incoming sources such as video, Power point presentations, social media and satellite links as well as outputs to satellite, the Bank of England Youtube channel and the BBC.

Metro’s visual designers deployed x2 20K projectors and used Watchout software to create the complex, multi-display presentations.  The Barco E2 4k screen management system was used alongside Watchout to switch between the various content items, creating a powerful and uninterrupted 4K HD visual.

To optimise engagement and interaction during the breakout sessions, Metro worked with event app developer Cube-i to create a bespoke app which Forum delegates could access via Metro’s iPads.  The app allowed delegates to vote on which statement they mostly agreed with in relation to the breakout topic.  Discussion was then based upon the outputs and information was reported back and acknowledged in the closing session.

Making use of social media, delegates were encouraged to post tweets throughout the day.  The debate continues at #BoEOpenForum.