Business News Live Business

Live events industry calls for urgent government support to stop “complete collapse”

By | Published on Tuesday 11 August 2020

The live events industry will today stage a number of, well, live events, of sorts, to highlight the continued challenges faced by the sector as the COVID-19 shutdown extends.

Hundreds of venues around the UK will turn their lights red in a bid to communicate to the political community that the live industry is now on red alert, with no real clarity on when shows, concerts, festivals and other events will be able to resume, while government schemes to support employees and freelancers affected by the COVID-19 shutdown are set to finish.

The full day of campaigning – which involves nineteen trade organisations and sees the live events industry ask ministers to “throw us a line” – will also feature a number of other activities involving people from across the sector taking place in over 20 cities.

While the government has committed to spend £1.57 billion supporting those in the UK’s cultural and heritage industries affected by COVID, those schemes do not cover all aspects of the wider live events sector, even though the entire industry faces the same challenges.

There also remain concerns that that sector-specific culture funding will focus on certain categories of creative businesses, and won’t actually filter down to freelancers working in live entertainment, or the small businesses that provide logistical and production support.

Organisers of today’s campaign state: “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. With no government support on the horizon for the event supply chain, redundancies have already begun. Research indicates that 25% of companies will have served redundancy notices by end of August, this rises to 70 per cent by the end of December”.

Peter Heath, MD of PLASA, which represents suppliers of technology and services to the live events sector and is one of the groups leading on the campaign, adds: “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”, he goes on. “We’ve issued a ‘red alert’ … 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”.

Among the specific demands being made of government is a grants scheme for live event businesses, and an extension of the the general COVID support schemes for employees and freelancers for those sectors where the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt.