While PLASA is pleased to see the government deliver a generous rescue package to arts institutions across the UK, they have only addressed the tip of the iceberg. We hope that the government will announce further support for all the manufacturers, suppliers and freelancers who help make the UK a global leader in events.
Theatres and venues are absolutely essential to the cultural fabric of the UK however, they only represent the public face of a vast industry. Each arena concert, musical show, arts installation, or corporate event relies on a complex supply chain, often involving hundreds of professionals. To put on a single arena show requires an average of 443 people working at all levels from planning and manufacturing to logistics and live production.
PLASA stands by its initial plea which is for the government to provide the entire event industry supply chain with grants as well as extensions to both the Furlough Scheme and the Self-employed Support Scheme. From the start, government grants were not explicitly made available to the event supply chain, with only one out of six PLASA members surveyed successfully receiving grants. And although the Furlough Scheme was a great relief, the tapering off by Autumn does not bode well for companies who do not expect to see any business until next year. The situation has been even more bleak for our freelancers who make up nearly three quarters of our industry. Many immediately fell through the gaps and will soon have no income whatsoever.
Without urgent support the supply chain – which helps make live events possible – could collapse before the year is out. We know this because 60% of businesses surveyed in April by the Events Industry Forum reported having only enough cash to survive for a maximum of three months. The situation truly is critical, and we could soon lose a great number of technically skilled and creative people to other sectors.
While we wait for the government to announce further support for the creative sector, we will continue to campaign for all those who work along the event and entertainment supply chain. Our #WeMakeEvents video has garnered a huge reaction across social media and we encourage you to keep sharing it. We have also co-authored letter templates with fellow industry associations for you to send to your local MP to highlight your particular situation. We were also pleased to support #LightItInRed which saw monuments, venues and buildings light up in ‘emergency red’ across the UK on Monday 6 July to draw attention to our multi-faceted industry.
I would personally like to assure you that PLASA is working hard for the interests of our members and the wider industry and will continue to do so until our industry is supported in the way it deserves. We will be writing to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden voicing our concerns that this rescue package will not reach the hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses who work behind the scenes in the industry.
To find out more about what we are doing please visit: www.plasa.org/we-make-events and www.plasa.org/coronavirus
~ Peter Heath, PLASA Managing Director