On Monday 16 March 2020, the events and theatre industry stopped. Technicians across the country had done their rig checks, performers were doing their warm-ups, the stages were being swept ready to open the houses to audiences who travelled sometimes hundreds of miles to enjoy an evening of entertainment. Once the announcement was made by the Government that the country was going into lockdown, tools were downed, and technicians and performers went home unsure of what their futures would hold.
Theatres were first to stop and will be the last to return, no sooner than Spring 2021.
As the days went by, the enormity of the situation became clear. Freelancers were being told daily that the work they were relying on for their livelihoods was disappearing. Suppliers started working out how they would get their equipment out of venues and how they would pay their staff.
After the Government’s announcement of the Furlough Scheme for full time employees, the freelance community were told they would be able to claim on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). As the details emerged, it became clear that many individuals were finding they would not be entitled to any financial help. As weeks turned into months, the dire situation facing our industry prompted the creation of groups such as Freelancers Make Theatre Work, Let The Music Play, Forgotten Ltd and Let Us Dance. These groups and many individual businesses petitioned the DCMS and Government on behalf of different sectors of the industry to create a rescue package for venues, suppliers, and individuals.
On Sunday 5 July, the Government announced £1.57bn predominately for theatres, venues and institutions deemed the crown jewels for the UK. There was no clear detail on when this money would be available and as the days went on, news of redundancies and closures of long-standing venues continued to appear in thenews.
A recent PLASA survey reported that 10% of businesses served redundancy notices in July and a further 15% will be serving this month. With social distancing still in place and no viable way to hold mass gatherings by the end of the year, 70% of industry businesses will have made redundancies.
Government support packages for employees ends in October. As an industry that will be not be able to generate any income, we are asking the Government to “Throw us a line”. There are c1,000,000 employed in the UK delivering events, 600,000 deliver outdoor events, 72% of whom are freelance, many of which have no access to any financial support. Most of the suppliers, including UK manufacturers, are not eligible for the £1.57bn bailout so will have to take out private lines of credit in order to continue. More redundancies and closures will appear in the news. More lives will be affected, not just by the financial burden, but by the mental health toll.
News of talented individuals leaving the industry and not planning to return so they can provide for their families is heart breaking. As we all know, the events and theatre industry is a way of life and not just a job. We travel together, eat together, drink together, sleep on the same bus, know about each other’s families, see each other at our best and worst, and work to a standard that is the envy of the world.
#WeMakeEvents is bringing together all aspects of the events and theatre industry to make our voices heard by the Government. Those currently involved include 19 trade and industry bodies along with over 100 of the world’s leading audio, lighting and video equipment manufacturers, production companies and freelancers.
The #WeMakeEvents campaign is now at RED ALERT and will continue until the industry is allowed to operate in a way that is not limited by social distancing policies, and is calling for:
1. Grants - not loans - made available to businesses in the events supply chain.
2. Furlough Scheme extended until the industry is back to work
3. Extension of the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.
Extend self employed
On Tuesday 11 August the #WeMakeEvents - RED ALERT campaign is holding a day of events to call the Government to ‘THROW US A LINE’ before we lose the talent and expertise that is the envy of the world.
The #WeMakeEvents campaign, which is raising the alarm for the live events and entertainment sector, has organised a day of action across London and the UK on 11 August. A series of events will call on the government to ‘Throw us a Line’ before the talent and expertise that makes the UK’s live events and entertainment sector the envy of the world is lost.
In London, journalists and politicians have been invited to board a boat at Westminster Pier, from where they will sail through a series of ‘arenas’ which will feature many of the capital’s iconic landmarks, all lit up red in solidarity. For added impact, industry members are being asked to line up, socially distanced, on river banks and bridges to create a Red Alert route. In key locations supporters will lower down red rope lights to the boat as it passes, to symbolise ‘throwing us a line’.
Everyone who wants to be part of the Red Alert route must pre-register via EventBrite, where they can also select their preferred location to join the action. Those who are part of the route are asked to wear a red t-shirt and download the MyLight – Flashlight app to turn their phone into a red flashlight.
Please note it is also mandatory to wear a face covering throughout the event – a red one would be ideal.
Andy Dockerty Managing Director of Adlib, said: “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. We need the government to understand the urgency of the situation and so we call on industry members to make their voices heard and join us on the evening of 11 August.”
In addition to the London action, a series of regional events will also take place. More details can be found on the event Facebook page WeMakeEvents: Red Alert - day of action
The industry bodies now involved in #WeMakeEvents include: the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), the ALD - The People in Performance Lighting, the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Sound Designers (ASD), Community Leisure UK, Creu Cymru, Curtain Call Online, the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST), Freelancers Make Theatres Work, the Institute of Sound & Communications Engineers (ISCE), MUTA, the MIA, the Music Venues Trust (MVT), the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), PLASA, Production Managers Forum (PMF), Production Services Association (PSA), Society of London Theatre (SOLT) & UK Theatre, Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA) and Theatre & Dance Northern Ireland.
For full details and to register, click here