The U.K. live events industry has declared a ‘Red Alert Day’ on Aug. 11 to raise awareness of its dire situation in the wake of COVID-19 and lobby for sustained government support.
Hundreds of venues across 20 cities and towns in the U.K., including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Manchester, will turn their lights on that evening, symbolizing the state of the industry. Venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Tate Modern, the London Eye and the National Theatre will feature thousands of socially distanced volunteers asking the government to ‘throw a line’ to the sector.
Trade association PLASA (Professional Lighting and Sound Association) is asking that the government makes grants — not loans — available to businesses in the events supply chain; extends the furlough scheme that ends in October until the industry is back to work; and extends the self-employment scheme that is tailored towards the industry.
“This day of action aims to raise awareness of the events sector, which is worth £100 billion ($130.5 billion) and employs up to 1 million people,” said a PLASA statement.
In July, the U.K. government announced a $1.9 billion lifeline for the arts sector, split into two funding rounds, but musician and activist Peter Gabriel says the live events sector has been neglected.
“The live events sector employs over 600,000 highly skilled people in the U.K. — event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and technology — over 70% of which are freelancers,” said Gabriel. “All of whom have had no work for the past four months, with little likelihood of restarting until Spring 2021 at the earliest.”
“A lot of high arts have now been given some support, but people working on the festival side of things and in live events have been forgotten about, and I hope they are not forgotten about any longer,” Gabriel said. “Around the U.K. they’ve created something which I think is the best in the world.”
“Many of these people are freelancers, so don’t fall under furlough schemes,” Gabriel added. “So right now, they are feeling the pinch very badly and if we want live events and festivals to stay an important British business then it needs to be supported.”
PLASA managing director Peter Heath said the live events industry supply chain “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,” added Heath. “The sector is on its last legs, and now the whole industry is coming together to ask the government to ‘throw us a line.’”