THE social event that has brought thousands of people together in Dorset’s creative and digital industries is to end after 10 years.

Meetdraw started in 2009 as a few staff enjoying after-work drinks and turned into a quarterly fixture on the calendar.

But its volunteer organisers say the industry’s “changing landscape” has prompted them to make next week’s 40th Meetdraw the last one.

In an email to the event’s regulars, they said: “In the decade since Meetdraw’s inception, change has been constant. We’ve seen attendance swell from the handfuls that would gather at O’Neill’s after a day’s work, to nearly 1,000 of you who swamped the Pier Approach in the summer of 2016.

“Through it all we’ve been steered and guided by the tireless energies of a large number of industry experts; agency owners, designers, developers, project managers, account handlers, lecturers, freelancers and more. These volunteers have poured heart and soul into making every Meetdraw event something to remember.”

But they added: “The digital creative scene in Bournemouth is ever changing. Agencies have come and gone, new technologies, platforms, meetups and methodologies have sprung up, and we find ourselves in a different landscape now. After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that we’ve decided to bring Meetdraw to a close.”

They said the meeting and socialising would “happen in another form”.

Toby Pestridge, creative director at Createful at Bournemouth app and web design agency Createful, is among the Meetdraw volunteers, known as ‘butchers’.

He told the Daily Echo: “In terms of the digital landscape, we’ve seen a number of agencies in the last 10 years subject to mergers, buyouts or shutting shop altogether. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and many agencies are still thriving, but it’s safe to say that the landscape has certainly changed.

“Another trend we’ve seen is for the establishment of client-side digital capabilities. This takes the form of large companies setting up their own in-house digital departments that handle things like research and development, marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation), digital communications and social media. Companies like LV=, Vitality, JP Morgan and Lush are all prime examples of this, and are starting to combine the freedom and creativity normally only found in creative agencies, with the security of large, private organisations.

“This can be quite a tempting move for those working in the uncertainty of ‘agency land’, where you have to fight for every penny and can frequently find yourself existing month-to-month.

“There’s still very definitely a desire for those in the community to meet up regularly, chew the fat and socialise.”

He said “life after Meetdraw” was up to debate.

“There are Meetdraw volunteers who will be keen to continue serving the community in a similar fashion, but we all feel it’s the right time for something new to pick up the baton and run with it.

“We did consider passing on the management of Meetdraw onto new volunteers, but even if you try to reinvent it, many people will continue to think ‘it’s just the same old Meetdraw’ and it becomes difficult for something new to thrive.”

Meetdraw events have included bingo, talent shows, board game evenings and quizzes.

The final event will be on Thursday, June 6, at Key West on Bournemouth Pier. Places are free but need to be booked, with details at