The events industry and #WeMakeEvents campaign is gearing up for a global day of action (September 30) to highlight the how the global live events industry urgently needs to get back to work.

More than 30 million people in 25 countries would usually work in the events industry, but with social distancing measures in place, there is no possibility of a financially viable return for the foreseeable future.

Over the past weeks, events have happened around the world, including in the US, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain and UK, to raise awareness of those impacted in the event supply chain, from manufacturers, production companies, catering, transport, security and others, to the huge freelance community that works within the industry.

The majority of the industry has had no income since the beginning of the crisis in March, and with a global second wave of COVID-19 imminent, a date to return to work has become impossible to predict, leaving many companies and individuals devastated, both financially and personally.

The industry is now joining together as a worldwide force on September 30 for a Global Day of Action. This marks the start of a new phase of the campaign, which will continue to alert governments to the disastrous situation the sector faces.

In the UK alone, the DCMS’ figures state the Cultural Sector’s value exceeds £100 billion and was the fastest growing sector in 2017 and in 2018, the outdoor events industry attracted a staggering 141.5 million visitors. Despite this, the sector does not receive arts grants, which means that the recent £1.57 billion bailout is not reaching the highly skilled people, manufacturers or the huge supply chain of businesses that enable the sector to operate. When this supply chain is taken into account, the number of people affected nears one million and threatens to destroy all of their livelihoods, as well as the future of live events in general.

“In 2019, we turned over between £3 and £4 million in the corporate events market,” says Bryan Raven, managing director of White Light. “This year, in the same time period, we have turned over just £8,000. At the beginning of the year, we employed 260 people. It doesn’t take an accountant to do the maths and realise it’s not financially viable to keep a company going under such circumstances. The result is that we have already had to make 67 staff redundant and, unless the furlough scheme in the UK is extended or replaced, a further 50 roles are at risk. It’s tragic to see our company go from being highly successful to this in a matter of months.”

#WeMakeEvents is now calling on governments worldwide to extend significant financial support for the people and companies in the events sector supply chain until they can viably return to work.

At 8pm local time on September 30, event professionals from thousands of cities across more than 25 countries will come together to Stand As One for the Global Day of Action.

The “baton” will be passed across different time zones and feature creative activities, which include:

  • Shine a Light – strategically placed shafts of white light will be beamed into the night sky, with each one signifying potential job losses.
  • #LightItInRed – venues and structures will be illuminated red with the #WeMakeEvents signature expression of Red Alert.
  • Inside Out – images of what would have been taking place inside a venue will now be projected onto the outside of empty venues, reminding us what we are missing and what may never return.

In the UK, on September 30 from 6.30pm-8.30pm, British Airways i360 Viewing Tower in Brighton together with venues along the seafront will be lit up red in solidarity for everyone in the events industry affected by COVID-19.

The Brighton activation is spearheaded by a core group of event professionals, including Jacqui Partridge and Ian Silcock, founder of Partridge Events, the creative event producer, Ian Baird founder of EPIC and Whisky Bravo Productions and John Wallis, director of Reveries Event.

Partridge said: “There are many people who have fallen through the cracks and not received any help, this is about them as well as securing more help from Government if there is no start date to get our businesses up and running again.”

A team of volunteers has been pulled together with lighting and production companies for the evening spectacle. Partridge continued: “We’d like as many venues to light up red as possible, with LED lighting it’s easy to achieve and they can register taking part at Light It In Red.”

Michael T Strickland, chair and founder of Bandit Lites in the USA and a leading voice in the US RESTART campaign, which is aligned with WeMakeEvents, also said: “What people really don’t understand is what events contribute to the world, financially, spiritually and emotionally.

“We really are a global industry. The impact to us is devastating right now, with 77 per cent of people in our live events industry having lost 100 per cent of their income due to the inability to work due to social distancing regulations, but the impact on the world if the industry disappears will be equally devastating in many ways.

“It’s incomprehensible that governments do not understand the economic value of the events industry as a whole – from festivals, tours, conventions to corporate events. We are a solid financial investment and will be able to contribute far more to a global recovery than we will cost in the meantime.”

In the UK, #WeMakeEvents is continuing to make its message to the Government clear:

What we want

We want to go back to work.

What we need to help us do that

Government-backed COVID-19 Insurance Scheme

Why – to ensure if local lockdowns happen event organisers will recover costs and attendees will receive a refund.

Government support for widespread proactive COVID -19 testing for event attendees

Why – To give confidence to attendees and organisers that the event is safe and COVID-19 Compliant

A three-year extension to the reduced cultural VAT rate on tickets in line with DCMS recommendations

Why – To stimulate the return of a viable event sector

Until we can go back to work, and the industry is allowed to operate in a way that is not limited by social distancing, we are calling on the Government for:

Grants – not loans – made available to businesses in the events supply chain.

Why – to give companies the flexibility to allocate financial resources where they need it most, to keep their business afloat and to enable them to keep employees, adding value to the UK economy and culture in the future.

A specific job support scheme for live events supply chain until the government guidelines change on social distancing to allow a commercially viable return to work

Why – To allow employers to retain highly skilled people in preparation for a return to work; to support the freelance community, including single director companies; and to support all those excluded by the current government eligibility criteria. This will help us to be ready to kickstart the industry and hence the UK economy.

How people can get involved:

  • Sign up to be involved on September 30 for the Global Activation from 8-11pm: www.wemakeevents.com
  • Join the Facebook pages ‘We Make Events Brighton Seafront 30th September’ and ‘We Make Events Campaign’ and invite peers. Share what you miss about not having events, share pictures of your favourite events and what they mean to you use #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert #Lightitinred on social posts.
  • Follow @WeMakeEventsOfficial on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Venues and businesses, can download the #WeMakeEvents logo, print it out and place it in the business to highlight the cause.
  • Take a picture and post on personal social media channels using #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert #Lightitinred and on the Facebook page “We Make Events Campaign”
  • Facebookers can add the ‘We Make Events’ logo to their profile picture.
  • Make a donation or buy some We Make Events merchandise. Eighty per cent of profit goes to industry charities to support those suffering financial hardship. Go to www.wemakeevents.com

Image: Magazine London – Louise Stickland