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Outdoor events industry on “brink of permanent demise”, trade group declares

By | Published on Tuesday 16 June 2020


An organisation that represents businesses that work on outdoor events – including outdoor concerts and festivals – says that its sector is “on the brink of permanent demise” as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Half of the companies surveyed by the UK’s National Outdoor Events Association say they won’t survive to the end of the year without additional government support.

NOEA’s membership includes the promoters and organisers of all sorts of different kinds of outdoor shows, as well as companies that provide production, technical, security, logistical and other services to such events. All have obviously been majorly impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown that has pretty much led to the cancellation of an entire summer season of activity.

Based on a recent survey of its membership, NOEA says that 84% of those surveyed have seen all the events they were scheduled to work on this summer cancelled. More than half have suffered losses of more than £100,000, with the association estimating that the average loss to event businesses is £539,431.

Needless to say, that puts lots of jobs under threat in a sector that relies heavily on small companies and freelancers. Three quarters of those surveyed have utilised the government’s support schemes to furlough staff during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but 65% say that redundancies will still be necessary to weather the ongoing storm.

One challenge for this sector, of course, is how important the summer months are for each business. Even if live events start to return later this year as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, many companies will still struggle having missed out on the most lucrative half of the year. And if the government – as expected – withdraws its support schemes as those restrictions are lifted, that will likely result in widespread redundancies and closures.

The NOEA report says that of those companies surveyed, 65% only have cash reserves in place to keep the business going for six months or less, 41% for no more than three months. And just over half said they won’t survive to the end of 2020 without further external support. And while 65% have already applied for government grants, 80% have so far received nothing.

The trade group stated yesterday that “the festival and events industry as we know it is on the brink of permanent demise”. It added that “the loss of these businesses could permanently change the shape of the festival and event industry and lead to the closure of some of the most recognised festival, sporting, cultural and event brands in the UK”.