On Tuesday 6 October, PLASA’s Managing Director Peter Heath spoke to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on Employment and Covid-19. Alongside Horace Trubridge from Musicians’ Union, Abigail Pogson from SAGE Gateshead and Julian Bird from UK Theatre, Peter gave evidence of the live events and entertainment sector is suffering and why the sector needs further government support. The full video is available to watch at https://parliamentlive.tv.
During the introduction Peter commented “The events industry has been absolutely devastated, but the question is, can it survive? This is subject to how soon we can return to work and what support mechanisms will be in place to maintain skills, maintain innovation, and maintain the supply chain. When demand returns, demand will be high because people like to spend money on things that make them happy. But we need to have an industry there to fulfil demand.”
When asked for examples of businesses which have been made unviable Peter responded, “We have many company members that have been in double digit growth for many years, but they have had zero revenue from March onwards. For example, one of our members invoiced over £11 million in March 2019. In the same period this year invoiced £170,000. He is now being told he is not viable.”
He continued, “Furlough was a great help, but the supply chain has had no revenue and redundancies have been made as early as July. With the new scheme in play, redundancies will continue to multiply because there is still no revenue and some of companies are deemed unviable.”
On the subject of the self-employed Peter commented, “There is a phenomenal amount of freelancers and self-employed people in our sector, and some of their individual cases that we listen to are terrible. People are losing their homes because they are not getting support.”
When asked about the level of skills throughout the industry Peter said, “The industry is highly skilled, with technology at the forefront. People who work in the sector have gained their skills over time, and they are completely passionate about what they do.”
Peter also pushed the importance of innovation in the UK, “In addition to the cultural impact, which is huge, there is the whole issue of innovation. The UK has a strong manufacturing centre, and this is also under threat as part of the supply chain to live events. If we are not supported correctly, we are under threat of losing innovation that is world class.”
Regarding other countries’ strategies to bring back live events Peter commented, “Other parts of Europe seem to be ahead of us. If we continue as we are, what will happen is that the businesses that drive our industry will disappear and will not there to give freelancers work and we will have companies coming in from Europe to do our work.”
When asked whether the pandemic will have an effect on the way people interact with live events Peter responded, “The appetite for people to participate and create a memory – which is why they go – will only help the sector. But it will also have a long-lasting effect on wellbeing because of the lack of memory-creating and enjoyment.”
PLASA is the lead association for companies and individuals who work in the entertainment technology industry. In addition to supporting its members through a variety of business and commercial services, the association campaigns for the best interests of the industry at government level. This summer, PLASA founded #WeMakeEvents, the campaign calling for further support for the events and entertainment sector, which is now independently steered by a collective of industry leaders. Find out more at www.plasa.org.