The UK events industry came together yesterday (August 11) in its urgent bid for government support, as over 715 venues and buildings were lit up in red as part of the #WeMakeEvents day of action.
Twenty of the UK’s biggest cities hosted events to raise awareness of the struggling supply chain that facilitates events across the country. From Minnack Theatre Cornwall to The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh, Principality Stadium Cardiff, and the Millennium Forum Northern Ireland, venues across the country took part in the day of action in a show of support for the cause. In Manchester, 200 technicians pushed redundant flight cases through the city centre as they observed COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, at 20:30 in London a boat illuminated 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.
The call to action focused on raising awareness for 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.
To facilitate this event, over 19 trade associations from the live events sector collaborated for the first time to help save their industry. The initial #WeMakeEvents campaign by PLASA issued a ‘Red Alert’ last week, to symbolise the imminent danger the industry is in.
The day of action also saw politicians, artists, companies, venues and professionals across the UK joining in the cause, sharing messages and pictures of #WeMakeEvents activities taking place near them.
The live music and entertainment industry needs our support 🚨 #LetTheMusicPlay #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert #makesomenoise #LightItInRed #ExcludedUK #ForgottenLtd @OliverDowden @RishiSunak @BorisJohnson @number10press @alewermbe @plasaonline pic.twitter.com/BFBz4Cucis
— Leona Lewis (@leonalewis) August 11, 2020
With the country going in and out of lockdown, the govt must support music and event workers with industry specific extensions of furlough, extend SEISS to those who are excluded, and provide further support for industries currently affected #WeMakeEvents https://t.co/NL4TeN2BNq
— Rebecca Long-Bailey (@RLong_Bailey) August 11, 2020
if you think it's bad as a music fan to not have any gigs to go to, imagine when you're a music fan and also your whole livelihood depends on it. love to all those involved with #WeMakeEvents demos today. https://t.co/R3yYAa3bb4
— Banquet Records #LetTheMusicPlay (@BanquetRecords) August 11, 2020
Without major immediate support from the Government, the entire live events sector supply chain is at risk of collapse. Red Alert is a campaign to raise public and media awareness in support of the live events sector #WeMakeEvents pic.twitter.com/IX3YdLtvvp
— New Order (@neworder) August 11, 2020
We are proudly lighting in red in support of #WeMakeEvents
THE LIVE EVENTS INDUSTRY IS NOW AT RED ALERT
— The SSE Arena, Wembley (@ssearena) August 11, 2020
Many thanks to actor/comedian/rapper Doc Brown for supporting #WeMakeEvents!
Make sure you follow our number 1 trending hashtag today for the latest pics and stories from events in London and across the UK! pic.twitter.com/sQW60VitJg
— PLASA (@PlasaOnline) August 11, 2020
— Jon Drape (@jondrape) August 10, 2020
Our production and technical team are out to support #WeMakeEvents set up for their #RedAlert campaign today. We stand in solidarity with the suppliers, manufacturers and freelancers who work so hard alongside us to make our events happen. pic.twitter.com/92ZNI3WjN6
— Royal Albert Hall (@RoyalAlbertHall) August 11, 2020
— elbow (@Elbow) August 11, 2020
— PLASA (@PlasaOnline) August 11, 2020
🔴 Employing approx. 1 million people, #Manchester Arena fully supports the #RedAlert campaign to call for urgent, sustained government support for the live events sector in the UK.https://t.co/cT4p6DAjPm#WeMakeEvents #LightItInRed pic.twitter.com/dRAzyGjJvK
— Manchester Arena (@ManchesterArena) August 11, 2020
— TorpedoFactoryGroup (@TFGAV) August 11, 2020
— Almeida Theatre (@AlmeidaTheatre) August 11, 2020
International support from celebrities such as Nile Rodgers, Peter Gabriel, New Order, Frank Skinner, Leona Lewis, The Cure, Frank Turner, Paloma Faith, Imogen Heap, Doc Brown, and Trevor Horn all helped to raise awareness, in the hope the UK’s world-renowned live events industry can stay afloat.
Peter Gabriel, singer, songwriter and activist, commented: “The live events sector employs over 600,000 highly skilled people in the UK – event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and technology – over 70% of which are freelancers. All of whom have had no work for the past four months, with little likelihood of restarting until Spring 2021 at the earliest.
“A lot of high arts have now been given some support, but people working on the festival side of things and in live events have been forgotten about, and I hope they are not forgotten about any longer. Around the UK they’ve created something which I think is the best in the world.
“Many of these people are freelancers, so don’t fall under furlough schemes. So right now, they are feeling the pinch very badly and if we want live events and festivals to stay an important British business then it needs to be supported.”
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The Cure said in a statement: “The events sector urgently needs government support to survive the COVID-19 crisis. Without major, immediate support from government, the entire live events sector supply chain is at risk of collapse. The aim is to have financial support extended for the people and companies in this sector, until they can return to work.”
Peter Heath, MD of PLASA, added: “The live events industry supply chain, essential to every single event in the UK, is set to completely collapse without financial support from the government, due to social distancing prohibiting mass events. Large scale events are not expected to reopen until Spring 2021 at the earliest, and the reality is that the sector can’t wait that long. While the Government’s commitment to provide £1.57bn to our crown jewels is welcomed, this does not not help the companies and freelancers who work in the live events supply chain. We’ve issued a ‘Red Alert’ after using #WeMakeEvents because the sector is on its last legs, and now the whole industry is coming together to ask the government to ‘throw us a line.’”
Andy Dockerty, managing director of Adlib, concluded: “The events sector has been absolutely devastated by the COVID-19 crisis, and there are few signs of any significant restart in the near future. Without immediate support, the entire live events supply chain is at risk of collapse, and some 1 million highly skilled professionals face many more months of financial uncertainty.”