Over 25 countries participate in We Make Events day of action

Yesterday (September 30) saw over 25 countries come together to participate in the We Make Events day of action, aimed at raising awareness of the live events industry’s urgent need for government support.

A range of activities were held throughout the day, such as lighting iconic buildings in reds and beaming shafts of white light into the sky, all in the name of highlighting the perilous state that the sector has been left in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 30 million people across the globe work in live events, the majority of which have not worked since the coronavirus outbreak. Many remain unsure as to when their work will return. As such, the industry is reliant on financial support from the government to prevent it from being damaged to the point of no return.

The day of action began in New Zealand and Australia, where key landmarks such as the Auckland Sky Tower, The Domain in Sydney and Perth’s Matagarup Bridge were illuminated. The campaign then moved through other countries, including India, the Philippines, Greece, Turkey, Poland, Austria, Norway and South Africa.

Based in South Africa, Duncan Riley, director of DWR Distribution, South Africa’s leading supplier of lighting, audio and AV equipment for the country’s entertainment industry, commented: “The past seven months have really been trying times for our industry in South Africa. To see the freelancers struggle and having to say good-bye and retrench our own staff, has been the most difficult part. Simply put, we cannot continue as a live events industry as the country now stands”.

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In the UK, where the We Make Events campaign was founded, a range of iconic buildings were lit in red, including the London Eye, Royal Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and ExCel Centre. Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “Before COVID-19, the UK events industry was a world-class sector worth £70bn, employing over 700,000 people, across 25,000 businesses. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our sector. We’re calling on the Government to extend the support available to our industry and provide clarity on when the events sector will be able to reopen. We are totally committed to continuing to work with the Government to explore ways of resuming business in a safe, COVID-secure manner and are determined to build confidence around this”.

The event also received the support of many high-profile artists who used their social media channels to raise awareness. These included, Radiohead, Fatboy Slim, Noel Gallagher, Nadine Shah, Foals and many others.

Andy Dockerty, managing director of Adlib, and one of those behind #WeMakeEvents, concludes: “This was an important event as it truly did show a real sense of comradery and proves how we’re all in it together. Speaking to other participants in the various countries, it seems as though certain governments are actually helping companies and venues find ways in which to put on events, whereas others are simply ignoring all pleas. The purpose of this event was to get all governments to ensure our normally thriving industry survives this current crisis, be ready to help the global economy recover, and that hundreds of thousands of jobs are saved in the process”.

The live events business is a major contributor to the economy, with the creative sector generating more than £100 million every year. According to a 2019 UK Music report, the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion to the UK economy in 2018, with the live music sector contributing £1.1 billion. The industry was also found to employ almost 200,000 people in the same year.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the live events market has been devastated, with thousands of jobs affected following the cancellation of all gigs, festivals, theatre productions and trade shows. Touring crew, engineers and production staff – many of which are freelancers – have been without work for more than six months, with no sign of events returning until summer 2021 at the earliest. Numerous venues have also been forced to close, while artists and performers have had to cancel all tours and live appearances until further notice.

Details of the next stage of the We Make Events campaign will be announced soon.