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#WeMakeEvents response to Freedom Day

#WeMakeEvents is pleased to hear this week’s Government announcement regarding stage four of the roadmap on 19th July. The Live Events Sector has been decimated by the pandemic, so to reach this milestone of re-opening ‘without any capacity restrictions’ is very significant progress.

However, it is imperative that the Government maintains the existing support and furthermore provides ongoing sector specific help to ensure we can return safely, practically and responsibly. Even at this stage of re-opening, the sector still faces the risk of cancellation, uncertainty over local authority licensing rules and staff absence due to track and trace isolation rules, so it remains critical that the government delivers:

1. The much called for Covid-19 cancellation insurance

2. Clear guidance to local authorities

3. An urgent review of the timetable for amending the track and trace isolation rules to daily testing and isolation only required when a positive result is recorded.

Without these, confidence for many parts of the sector will remain too low to allow events to happen, which will prolong the suffering and hardship the sector has endured for nearly 18 months.

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#WeMakeEvents calls for clarity over Freedom Day

#WeMakeEvents is pleased that the Government has published the reports from the Events Research Program (ERP).  The results are encouraging and demonstrate that full scale events can take place safely.

In view of this #WeMakeEvents urges the Government to ensure that the live events sector is allowed to re-open on July 19th ‘without significant, restrictive and unnecessary limitations’ in place.

In order to achieve that it is essential that Government sets out in advance, any limitations or mitigation measures that will be required at that time to enable the sector to plan ahead with certainty and return to full operation levels as quickly as possible.

This clarity is critical as currently the public are being misled as they are encouraged to believe ‘Freedom Day’ means everything will revert to normal overnight, but the uncertainty we have faced for so long, and the long lead-time required by many events, combined with the arrival of new variants and rising cases, means this will not be the case. 

We urgently need Government to work with us to create a detailed roadmap to reopen the events sector.

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Radiohead t-shirts raise funds for #WeMakeEvents

For a limited time only Radiohead will be making available a Radiohead crew t-shirt — the same original shirts distributed to touring and local crew — with proceeds going to #WeMakeEvents to benefit a range of stage & crew organizations.

The shirts are a remake of an original Stanley Donwood design. Different colour options represent the different jobs on tour – lights, video, audio, riggers, pushers, backline.

Visit the online shop.

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#WeMakeEvents responds to budget

In response to the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget Speech, Duncan Bell steering committee member of #WeMakeEvents, has said:

“It is good to see the Chancellor recognise some of the challenges the live event supply chain is facing and take steps in the Budget to address these. The extension of furlough and SEISS beyond the end of the roadmap will be vital and we applaud this decision. The additional funding allocated to the Cultural Recovery Fund is also potentially helpful but DCMS and Arts Council England must ensure that the live event supply chain receives a fair proportion of the additional money allocated, which has not been the case in the past.

“But critical barriers to recovery still remain and must be overcome. Most importantly, vast numbers of businesses and individuals in the live event supply chain remain excluded from support schemes and we urge local authorities to address this through the discretionary funds they have been allocated. The continued absence of Government-backed Covid-19 cancellation insurance is also a block to live events getting going again and this must be announced shortly.”

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#WeMakeEvents urges local authorities to distribute grant funds

#WeMakeEvents have written to over 350 local authorities urging them to support businesses and individuals throughout the live events supply chain.

Feedback from local authorities is that applications for the Additional Restricted Grant (ARG) have been lower than anticipated and many have substantial amounts still to distribute.

We encourage you to get in touch with your local authority (or your borough council if you are in a two/three tier area) as soon as possible. Grants can be substantial – one supporter received £24,000 – so it is well worth looking in to.

While rules differ from council to council, we have heard that applications are often considered if you are in one of these situations: 

  • You are self-employed and excluded from SEISS.
  • You have received an ARG but need further funding to cover fixed costs whilst unable to operate, such as business rates.
  • You were unsuccessful in your first application and receive guidance from your council on how to adjust your application.
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#WeMakeEvents roadmap statement

We welcome the Prime Minister’s statement on a national roadmap to recovery and hope these measures will help plan the return of live events by June.

While the steps are positive, our sector needs more detail and we urge the government to extend financial support in the upcoming budget to stop the current talent drain and ensure that the supply chain to live events can plan to return.


For this to happen we need government-backed insurance for events, financial support for the self-employed, and grants, not loans, along with continued furlough, for all companies in a supply chain that has had little-to-nothing for over a year and will be the last to return to income generation.
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Government Can’t See US campaign launch

London, UK – 18.02.21 #WeMakeEvents today launches a hard-hitting campaign, rallying the UK Government to provide urgent relief to a struggling live events sector.

The new The Government Can’t See Us, Can You? microsite 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

“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.”

Peter Heath, #WeMakeEvents steering committee member and MD of PLASA

“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.”

Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

“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.”

Neil Hunt, founder of ZigZag Lighting
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#WeMakeEvents gives evidence at DCMS hearing on UK festivals

On Tuesday 2 February, #WeMakeEvents gave evidence during a DCMS Select Committee inquiry into the future of UK festivals, represented by the leader of the campaign’s political group Duncan Bell who detailed the ongoing challenges faced by the live events and entertainment industry.

When asked if there is a problem with people leaving the industry due to COVID-19 Duncan answered that, “Freelancers have been forced to find work elsewhere. In a recent survey of 2,800 people over 30% of freelancers said they have had to leave the industry, and 20% say they hope to come back but are very unsure whether they are able to because of the lack of certainty.” #WeMakeEvents is currently verifying the data from this survey and will be publishing the full report in the coming weeks.  

One of the central aims of #WeMakeEvents is to get government-backed cancellation insurance for events, and following a question on the financial processing Duncan explained, “In many cases there will be payments in the planning stage but the majority of funds will not be paid until the event has gone ahead…It’s one of the reason the insurance discussion is such an important discussion for us.”

Duncan continued, “Conversations have been going on for some time and we have put forward various schemes. think the urgent requirement and benefit of the insurance is to bring certainty to being able to plan and book equipment, making it the first link in the chain, not the last.”

A road map still has yet to be presented by government on how and when the events industry is liekly to re-open. Duncan commented, “We need the clarity and engagement. It’s not about a definitive date, it’s about a plan of what the picture could look like – how do we think a safer event could happen, how does insurance allow that to happen, how does rapid testing fit in to that process? One of the points that is missed in many conversations is that unlike certain sectors we have not been forced to close legally and therefore many support systems aren’t triggered. Many businesses in our sector have been operating on 5-6 percent income over the past 10-11 months.”

In addition to the huge loss of earnings throughout 2021, Duncan also raised crucial points regarding Brexit and the future potential for loss of work: “There is a fear that technicians and crew will come in from the EU because of their passport status…We will see UK companies being less favourable and staff will be sourced from the EU and therefore will only have one country to work out for their work permit.”

Later in the inquiry, Duncan got to the crux of why the events industry has struggled to receive adequate government support:, “One of our biggest frustrations is that we represent the hidden bit – we are invisible and go out of our way to be invisible. People go to the theatre or a festival and take for granted that it happens magically. People are not aware of the thousands involved over a period of time, in many cases for festivals it’s a year-long process.”

Following the inquiry, the BBC reported on the future of festivals, quoting Duncan and his fellow witnesses: tour manager Tre Stead, Nottinghill Carnival chief exectutive Matthew Phillip, and Wild Rumpus director Rowan Cannon. Moreover, this crucial evidence will be evaluated and considered by top-tier government officials when developing safety procedures for live events in the future.

Read the BBC article: www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55900788
Watch the DCMS inquiry: parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e4cf0a19-99c6-4177-9c3e-fad00caf0548

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Statement on Glastonbury festival cancellation

Statement from #WeMakeEvents on the cancellation of Glastonbury festival

‘Everyone has been saying loud and clear that without Government backed insurance, the 2021 festival season won’t happen. Despite this, the government has not acted and now Glastonbury has been cancelled, which will likely trigger a domino effect leading to a wave of cancellations and delays throughout all types of live events.

Our sector is collapsing. We have been unable to work for almost a year, but have been excluded in many ways from vital support. To survive, we have to be able to start working as soon as it is safe to do so – which means Government backed insurance must be put in place urgently – as well as additional financial support.’

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Can you cycle further than Land’s End to John O’Groats?

Starting in Newcastle on Saturday 3rd October and finishing in London on Sunday October 18th, five industry stalwarts (plus one driving the bus!) will cycle between 80 and 125km per day, representing the UK tour season that never happened this year. Stopping off at over 50 of the most iconic festival, tour and performance venues that have all been standing empty, dark and silent, since the start of lockdown, all in all the tour will cover over 1,500km. (See tour locations and route map below.)

The tour aims to raise awareness of the plight of the million-plus workers in the UK events industry, a sector regarded as the best in the world, to raise funds for Backup #WeMakeEvents’ chosen charity that provides help to employees, freelancers and their families suffering in the entertainment sector, and to kick off ‘RESTART’, the next phase of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

The five riders and driver of the support vehicle, provided by Crossland Bussing, all have established careers in the events industry, having worked with the biggest names in the world including Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Roger Waters, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons and more. Heading up the initiative are Steve Reynolds and Loud Sound colleagues Mike Trasmundi along with. Mark Ward of Proper Productions and colleagues Harry Ford and Tyler Cole-Holmes,

According to Steve Reynolds it was so important, professionally as well as personally, to try to help. “Having worked in the entertainment and events business for so many years we all felt we HAD to do something, both to raise awareness to the public, who rarely see us behind the scenes, and inform the Government of the impending collapse of this sector, one that has grown year-on-year and is regarded as the best in the world, and is on the brink of collapse.

Most of our friends and colleagues work in this industry, we know their families and they are suffering. In fact, it’s like a big extended family, and we couldn’t stand by and let it just disappear without trying to help. So, to anyone reading or listening, please come and join us (it’s imperative for safety and COVID compliance that everyone has to register) or, if you can, make a donation on our donations page, thank you so much.

Route:

3rd October: Newcastle > Northallerton

4th October: Northallerton > Leeds

5th October: Leeds > Manchester

6th October: Manchester > Warrington

7th October: Warrington > Sheffield

8th October: Sheffield > Nottingham

9th October: Nottingham > Coalville

10th October: Coalville > Birmingham

11th October: Birmingham > Oxford

12th October: Oxford > Bristol

13th October: Bristol > Glastonbury

14th October: Glastonbury > Bournemouth

15th October: Bournemouth > Portsmouth

16th October: Portsmouth > Brighton

17th October: Brighton > London

18th October: London (travelling between landmarks)

Gary White of #WeMakeEvents added, “We’re delighted Steve and the team are helping in this way. It’s a typically generous gesture that we’re used to seeing from this industry. We’re extremely aware that many in our industry are suffering a sharp decline in their mental health  and, with little or no work or income for the past six months and no prospect of jobs until at least spring 2021, it’s important that we all pull together and raise funds to help them. If you’re thinking of joining the ride, why not invite an industry friend who might be in that position to get involved to join you for the day and be a part of it.

To get involved you must register at here and join the team for a day’s ride, or, if that sounds a little too energetic, you can help by donating to the charity here.