UK events industry unites in protest action
Monday, 10 August 2020
thirdHundreds of venues are expected to turn their lights red, along with other creative activities being staged in over 20 cities across the UK
UK - On 11 August (Tuesday), the live events industry across the UK will come together in solidarity to host a series of protests to help save the live events and entertainment sector, which is on the verge of collapsing without financial support from the government.
Encouraged by the #WeMakeEvents and #LightItInRed campaigns, hundreds of venues are expected to light up red, along with other creative activities being staged in over 20 cities across the UK to symbolise the industry going into red alert, and a final call to action titled ‘throw us a line’ will be taking centre stage on London’s South Bank.
The capital’s finale will begin on a boat at 20:20, as it makes it way down the Thames - passing Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the Tate, and more all illuminated in emergency red. As the boat reaches key locations, such as Westminster Bridge and Jubilee Bridge, hundreds of volunteers will symbolise the ‘throw us a line’ theme creatively.
The call to action hopes to raise awareness for over a million professionals at risk of losing their jobs, 600,000 of whom deliver outdoor events. With around 70% of the workforce being freelance, the imminent closure of the self-employed income support scheme at the end of the month threatens their livelihood.
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 – and opening times keep being pushed back. 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% by the end of December.
Over 19 trade associations from the live events sector are collaborating for the first time to save help save their industry - the initial #WeMakeEvents campaign by PLASA issued a ‘Red Alert’ last week, to symbolise the imminent danger the industry is in.
The socially distanced call to action will shine a light on the collaborative nature of the industry, showcasing a creative experience and live displays containing messages from established figures. Platinum-selling artists Peter Gabriel, The Cure, and Imogen Heap are a few of the many voices giving their support to this cause, with others expected to join.
Peter Gabriel, singer, songwriter and activist, comments: “The live events sector employs over 600,000 highly skilled people in the UK - event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and technology - over 70% of which are freelancers. All of whom have had no work for the past four months, with little likelihood of restarting until Spring 2021 at the earliest.”
Gabriel continues: “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. Around the UK 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. 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.”
Award winning rock band, The Cure, comments: “The events sector urgently needs government support to survive the COVID-19 crisis. Without major, immediate support from government, the entire live events sector supply chain is at risk of collapse.
“The aim is to have financial support extended for the people and companies in this sector, until they can return to work.”
Peter Heath, MD of PLASA, 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. We’ve issued a ‘Red Alert’ after using #WeMakeEvents 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.’”
Andy Dockerty, MD of Adlib, comments: “The events sector has been absolutely devastated by the COVID-19 crisis, and there are few signs of any significant restart in the near future. Without immediate support the entire live events supply chain is at risk of collapse, and some 1 million highly skilled professionals face many more months of financial uncertainty. We need the government to understand the urgency of the situation, and so we call on industry members to make their voices heard and join us on the evening of 11 August.”
In addition to the London action, a series of regional events will also take place. More details can be found on the event Facebook page WeMakeEvents: Red Alert - day of action.
PLASA is fronting the #WeMakeEvents campaign to bring attention to the immediate support that is needed from the government to avoid potential collapse of the events industry supply chain.

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