Hard hitting new campaign launched by #WeMakeEvents, as survey shows live event supply chain on verge of collapse
18 February 2021
Results show 43% of businesses expect to fold by June. #WeMakeEvents launches campaign to highlight the existential threat to the sector, and writes open letter to Rishi Sunak demanding urgent action to prevent collapse. More info below.
Today, #WeMakeEvents launches a hard-hitting campaign, rallying the UK Government to provide urgent relief to a struggling live events sector. The Government Can’t See Us, Can You? shows the devastation the pandemic has wrought on the live event supply chain – told through the stories of the highly-skilled professionals whose livelihoods have been seriously damaged.
#WeMakeEvents is calling on the Government – in an open letter to Rishi Sunak – to halt the destruction of the sector by recognising the impact of the pandemic on the live event supply chain, to support individuals and businesses to survive while they cannot work, and to engage with the sector to develop a plan for reopening, including Government-backed COVID-19 cancellation insurance.
The campaign is also asking the public to contribute their voices and opinions through social media and by writing to their MP – urging the Government to address this crippling situation now.
Until Government social distancing restrictions came into effect in March 2020, the UK live events industry brought in over £70 billion a year and supported over 700,000 jobs. The live event supply chain worked across all types of live event, including theatre, music, corporate events, festivals and almost any form of organised gatherings.
However, with all but no live events being able to take place for almost a year, the sector is on its knees – as shown by #WeMakeEvents’ recent survey of over 2,800 businesses and individuals in the live event supply chain:
- 93% of individuals and businesses in the live event supply chain have seen their income fall dramatically as a result of the pandemic – 65% have seen a fall of over 50%, and 30% a fall of over 90%
- Yet, 34% of individuals and businesses have received no Government support – either through loans, furlough, or local or national grants. Many of those that have received support, report it is inadequate
- As a result, 50% of individuals have had to take work outside of live events to supplement their income. A third have been forced to leave – or are considering leaving – the sector
- On top of that, 43% of live event supply chain businesses say they don’t have the resources to last until the summer
Peter Heath, #WeMakeEvents steering committee member and MD of PLASA (Professional Lighting and Sound Association), said: “The live event supply chain has been all but unable to work for almost a year – we have been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. Yet, we have received no targeted assistance and been excluded from much of the support said to be for businesses that are unable to open. As a result, the live event supply chain is on the brink of collapse. This can be stopped if the Government sees the human and economic devastation being inflicted on the live events supply chain, extends the whole sector the lifelines we need to survive until it is safe for live events to reopen, and works with us to build a practical roadmap for reopening. We hope this campaign moves the Government to take these vital steps.”
Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: “It’s hugely disappointing that almost a year since stages went dark, the skilled professionals making up our world leading creative sector are still falling through the cracks of Government support.The DCMS Committee continues to hear evidence on the severe impact the pandemic has had on those in live event supply chains, in our inquiry into the support needed to save the 2021 season of festivals. I hope this serves as a catalyst to the Government taking the steps it so urgently needs to, including backing COVID-19 cancellation insurance.”
Neil Hunt, founder of ZigZag Lighting, said: “Our industry came to an abrupt halt in March last year. We were mid-way through a tour and it had to be cancelled. Trying to survive without work has put immense pressure on us as a business and on me personally. Initially, there was some optimism as we thought we could return to work last year. That didn’t happen, and now it has been almost a year without work. We really need support from the Government to help us keep our heads above water. Otherwise, there won’t be an industry for us to go back to.”
#WeMakeEvents is an industry collective of businesses and freelancers working in the live events supply chain, established in April 2020 by PLASA in response to the impact of the pandemic on the sector. The #WeMakeEvents community has two aims, firstly to raise awareness of the devastating plight of the sector and seek Government support – and equally importantly, directly support the highly-skilled professionals whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic, raising funds to give immediate support for those suffering and in need across the entire live events supply chain.