£70billion contribution to the UK economy at risk once again – Government support needed to bounce back.
#WeMakeEvents urges Government to regard the live events sector as a highly viable industry worthy of investment and support.
With Government advice putting the decision-making onto the shoulders of the public, and consumer confidence eroding as a consequence, yet again we see the live events sector stressed to the limit.
Live events are traditionally the model of a robust sector, employing hundreds of thousands of personnel. A festival stage for example can employ upwards of 450 staff, a typical pantomime 50-100 staff. With record revenues in 2019 of £70billion, and reductions during 20/21 of up to 90%, businesses worked hard to bounce back and exceed revenues of November 2019 by November 2021. However, the current climate has already reduced this by 80% during December 2021 and is forecast to continue through January 2022.
From Lockdown-One in Spring 2020 until summer 2021, companies in this sector only received around 12% of Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) awards. And the ‘army’ of over half a million world-renowned, freelance, technical specialists were also largely denied support, with many still playing catch up having had no work for over a year with consequent debts and mental health issues mounting rapidly.
Whilst we are pleased to see the Government recognise the existence and critical role of freelancers in the entertainment sectors, the Chancellor’s announcement last week of £1.5milion support will have little to no effect whatsoever. Added to this, local government grants are not sufficiently targeted to reach the supply chain, compounded by the ‘postcode lottery’ of these grants by the issuing local authorities, and exclusion for many within the recently announced CRF criteria. Over 25% of people had to leave the sector they loved over the past 20 months for more regular and dependable income to support themselves and families. Another talent drain like this will be fatal.
Whilst we feel the pain for our colleagues in hospitality, widely covered by the media as being 40% down, the Live Events Supply Chain, (which traditionally feeds a significant level of hospitality revenues), is already facing cancellations of 80% and rising during December and January. The UK’s sector, regarded as the best in the world, is once again at risk of collapse. This does not only affect music events, festivals and tours but prevents others such as corporate, trade shows, conferences, sporting events and broadcast from proceeding.
According to Peter Heath, Managing Director of PLASA (Professional Lighting and Sound Association) and Steering Group member of #WeMakeEvents: “The incredible efforts made by this sector when it was on its knees for 16 months is testament not only to the belief and dedication of its people, but also evidence that this is a highly viable industry. But having taken so many body-blows it will need short-term support for its manufacturing and production companies, as well as its staff and freelance communities to recover.”
#WeMakeEvents urges the UK Government not to ignore this sector once again but to provide appropriate support for companies, personnel and freelance staff so it can bounce back to being the UK’s world-leading jewel in the crown.