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Day of global action: events industry called to Stand As One to urge government support

Today's #WeMakeEvents campaign will see venues and businesses light up their buildings in red to urge government support for the live events sector

Today marks the latest global day of action organised by the #WeMakeEvents campaign calling on governments to offer tangible support for a live events sector that has been one of the hardest hit industries during the Covid crisis.

From 8pm local time around the world, thousands of venues and places of work will once again light up their facades with red light (#LightItInRed) alongside unique shafts of light, projections, art installations and outreach to government officials and media to raise awareness and drive change.

Last week, the UK’s chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak overlooked the sector in announcing a new ‘job support’ scheme to replace the existing furlough process, warning that the government “can’t save every job”.

The new scheme invited further confusion by stating that employees must be in ‘viable’ jobs in order to benefit from the vastly reduced support scheme that will require businesses to pay 55 per cent of employee salaries if they are brought back part-time. Employees must also be able to work a third of their normal hours to be eligible. The government’s contribution per eligible employee is 22 per cent, or a third of an employee’s unworked hours.

The term ‘viable’ would seem to refer to jobs that are currently able to be performed, and the government has once again come in for criticism for seemingly overlooking the most impacted sectors that are yet to come back online due to existing Covid-related conditions, the live events industry being one of the most prominent examples.

Reacting to the news, organisers of the #WeMakeEvents campaign said, “We welcome the announcement of the new job support schemes in the UK, which will provide a measure of relief for our industry. However, with the increased restrictions that have been announced, it looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months,” a statement read.

“This means that the majority of businesses in our sector will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support their contribution towards employees’ salaries, nor will they be able to contract in the huge self-employed community within the industry.”

The campaign said that it will continue with its activity to put pressure on the UK government to put adequate support in place for a sector that employs more than a million people and contributes billions of pounds each year to the national economy. “We want our future to continue to create millions of memories. We want our future to continue to create millions of memories with the stories to match; it’s what we do best,” it said.

“Without significant and immediate support, the entire live events sector supply chain is at risk of collapse.” 

That last comment is the chilling reality that faces in-person events and hospitality businesses across the country, and the campaign is becoming an increasingly prominent voice in urging the government to take seriously the plight of those hardest hit sectors.

Today’s day of global action calls on all those supporting the live events sector “to stand as one, united in our common cause to save our industry. Join our campaign #WeMakeEvents to get the UK government to act now for sustained immediate financial support by visiting #WeMakeEvents.” 

“In 2019, we turned over between £3 and £4 million in the corporate events market,” said Bryan Raven, managing director of White Light. “This year, in the same time period, we have turned over just £8,000. At the beginning of the year, we employed 260 people. It doesn’t take an accountant to do the maths and realise it’s not financially viable to keep a company going under such circumstances. The result is that we have already had to make 67 staff redundant and, unless the Furlough scheme in the UK is extended or replaced, a further 50 roles are at risk. It’s tragic to see our company go from being highly successful to this in a matter of months.”

Today’s events will see the ‘baton’ passed across different time zones and feature creative activities including:

  • Shine a Light: strategically placed shafts of white light will be beamed into the night sky, with each one signifying potential job losses
  • #LightItInRed: venues and structures will be illuminated red with the #WeMakeEvents signature expression of Red Alert
  • Inside Out: images of what would have been taking place inside a venue will now be projected onto the outside of empty venues, reminding us what we are missing and what may never return

“What people really don’t understand is what events contribute to the world, financially, spiritually and emotionally,” concludes Michael T Strickland, Chair and Founder Bandit Lites in the USA and a leading voice in the US RESTART campaign which is aligned with #WeMakeEvents. “We really are a global industry. The impact to us is devastating right now, with 77 per cent of people in our live events industry having lost 100 per cent of their income due to the inability to work due to social distancing regulations, but the impact on the world if the industry disappears will be equally devastating in many ways.

“It’s incomprehensible that governments do not understand the economic value of the events industry as a whole – from festivals, tours, conventions to corporate events. We are a solid financial investment and will be able to contribute far more to a global recovery than we will cost in the meantime.”

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