The #WeMakeEvents campaign, which is calling on government to provide greater support for the live events industry in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has confirmed that it will be holding a ‘day of creative action’ on September 30.
The pandemic has severely impacted the live events sector, with over a million professionals at risk of losing their jobs – 600,000 of whom deliver outdoor events, and around 70 per cent are freelancers. The government’s £1.57 billion investment to the cultural and arts institutions will not reach the freelancers or self-employed in the industry, and the imminent closure of the self-employed income support scheme at the end of the month threatens their livelihood.
Unlike other industries, events, festivals, and performances have been unable to safely reopen due to social distancing guidance, and may not reopen until early 2021 – and opening times keep being pushed back. With no government support on the horizon for the event supply chain, redundancies have already begun. Research indicates that 25 per cent of companies will have served redundancy notices by the end of August, rising to 70 per cent by the end of December.
On August 11, #WeMakeEvents attracted nationwide attention as its first ‘day of action’ saw over 715 venues and buildings across the UK illuminated in red to signal the urgency of the situation. In London, a boat lit in red travelled along the Thames, passing the Royal Festival Hall, the London Eye, the National Theatre and the Tate, which were all lit up red. As the boat reached key locations, such as Westminster Bridge and Jubilee Bridge – hundreds of volunteers dressed in red and 4,000 socially distanced supporters lined up on the banks of the Thames to ask the government to ‘throw us a line’. Performances from Level 42 frontman Mark King and folk rock singer Frank Turner were also on display on the boat.
Now, the campaign is entering its next phase.
Initially launched by trade organisation PLASA, #WeMakeEvents has become an independent entity steered by a collective of industry trade bodies, including PLASA, businesses and freelancers.
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This next stage in the campaign will be known as ‘Stand as One’ –taken from the newly released song and now campaign anthem, written and performed by Joe Bygraves, who has agreed to donate 25 per cent of the money made from the track to relevant mental health organisations. Further action is planned to call for financial support to be extended for the freelancers and companies in this sector until they can safely return to work. The group will be announcing a number of creative activations to be held throughout the month, leading up to a #WeMakeEvents global day of creative action on September 30, with countries from New Zealand to Canada and across Europe joining in. More details to follow.
Gary White, from White Productions Limited, is one of those behind the campaign. He commented: “The live events industry is vitally important to this country and contributes billions of pounds each year to the UK economy – something that is an undeniable fact. The UK is regarded as a world leader in delivering complex events and our work is recognised and respected across the globe. However, the complete lack of ongoing support from the government means we now find ourselves at a cliff edge. There are hundreds of thousands now out of a job, through no fault of their own, and it seems that the possibility of returning to work won’t arrive until at least March next year.
He continues: “Now, more than ever, our voices need to be heard. This is why Stand as One is so important; it means we can all work together to ensure that our message reaches as many people as possible, not just in our industry but to all those who enjoy live events. This new collective has been meeting on an almost daily basis, working hard to put plans in place for the next steps of the campaign, whether it’s online and social messaging, videos, case studies or legal outdoor events to gain media attention. We’ve made a commitment to ourselves, our colleagues and our community to not stop until we receive the support we need – and this is a promise we intend to keep”.
Today, the collective is calling on as many individuals who normally work in live events to come together and take part in Stand as One. To kick this off, the group has put together the following incentives:
Write to your MP
Share #WeMakeEvents videos on social media
Call someone you know
White concluded: “We’d like to say thanks again for everyone’s support and patience so far. It truly is appreciated. That said, as those of us who’ve been out of work for months now know, the campaign to raise awareness has only really just begun. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we all work together to put forward the same message in order to achieve our main aim of receiving significant and immediate government support. We have to keep building momentum and show just how devastating the obliteration of the live events industry in this country would be, not just to us, but to everyone. We need as many people as possible to get involved, so please reach out and take part in a campaign and let us all Stand as One together”.
For more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit www.wemakeevents.com.