This article is courtesy of PLASA Media’s magazine LSi, first published on 1 October 2020.
In a collective show of solidarity, live events professionals from all corners of the world held peaceful demonstrations to once again raise awareness of the dire effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector and its workforce.
The #WeMakeEvents #StandAsOne Global Day of Action held yesterday, 30 September, was the single largest coordinated global event to take place since the campaign launched in the summer. Just as with the regional events that preceded it, the demo saw thousands of cultural buildings being lit up in red, whilst the #WeMakeEvents and #LightItInRed hashtags trended on social media.
Campaigners have continued to push for state support for an industry that’s been unable to resume sustainably due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. After more than six months of uncertainty, the future of a once-thriving sector and its workforce has been further threatened as a second spike in cases has seen restrictive measures being re-introduced by governments.
A raft of celebrities and artists endorsed the campaign, including Coldplay, Radiohead, Elbow, Mumford & Sons, Melanie C, Noel Gallagher and His High Flying Birds, James Bay, Frank Turner, Keane, The Libertines, Faithless, Massive Attack, The Happy Mondays, Biffy Clyro, Madness, Fatboy Slim, Skunk Anansie, and many more.
Glastonbury Festival’s Emily Eavis also shared a message of support: “Right now, tens of thousands of people who carry the UK’s hugely successful live music and events industry are out of work, through absolutely no fault of their own. The majority of these individuals are self-employed or sole directors of limited companies, and many have received no financial support throughout this pandemic.
“We are part of a UK creative industry which contributes over £100 billion to the economy each year and which puts this country on the map. An industry that brings people together like no other, to watch performances in theatres and venues and fields; performances which inspire, delight, move, educate and create memories to last a lifetime.
“But as it stands, there is no sign of the live events industry returning in the coming months. We are an industry in crisis. If we don’t speak up, many theatre companies, venues, promoters, artists and crew could struggle to such an extent that this industry is simply never able to return to the incredible force it was before the pandemic struck.
“We need the government to recognise what the performing arts bring to the fabric of this country, and how much it adds to the well-being of so many. We need them to offer financial support not just to venues and organisations that put together these performances, but also to the crews that actually make it all possible.”
#LightItInRed at the heart of global demos
More than 2,300 buildings from across Europe, the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia and Oceania registered on the #LightItInRed website as having joined the global wave of ‘emergency red’ light, with most demos taking place around 8pm local time. The day of action kicked off in New Zealand and Australia, where key landmarks such as the Auckland Sky Tower, the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, The Domain in Sydney, The Fortitude Music Hall, the Brisbane Showgrounds, Perth’s Matagarup Bridge, and many more were illuminated.
The ‘red wave’ then swept towards and across Europe, with venues from Istanbul to Londonderry and from Lerwick to Almeria lighting up in red. In the UK, the activities started with a march of pantomime dames from the West End to Westminster, whilst in the evening, countless theatres, music venues, clubs and company headquarters joined a long list of cultural landmarks to be lit up in red. These included the London Eye, O2 Arena, various ATG theatres, Covent Garden, SSE Hydro and the Minack Theatre.
The South African event industry also took part in the demo with action from major cultural hubs in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The US, Canada and much of South America also participated, with information about the various activities and #LightItInRed buildings count still to be confirmed.
“Yesterday, friends and colleagues around the world united in their belief in the live events and entertainment industry and their determination to safeguard its future,” said a #WeMakeEvents statement on Facebook. “Thousands of amazing global activations were shared and awareness was raised. We Stand as ONE, empowered and proud. We will keep the momentum going as we move into Restart, the next phase of creative action. More on this in the coming days. Keep connected and keep safe. Thank you.”
For more information on the campaign, visit: www.wemakeevents.com