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Liverpool shines spotlight on struggling event industry with second #WeMakeEvents awareness evening

3 years ago

By The Guide Liverpool

Liverpool shines spotlight on struggling event industry with second #WeMakeEvents awareness evening

****UPDATE – Please note the event at M&S Bank Arena (detailed in this article) has now been cancelled due to Liverpool’s COVID spike. But you can still spread awareness and support the cause by using the #WeMakeEvents on social media.

Live entertainment producers in Liverpool are to stage a massive awareness event to highlight thousands of jobs that will be lost without urgent government help.

It’s part of a UK-wide initiative – RED ALERT – Stand as ONE – by an industry which says it’s on the verge of collapse.

Andy Dockerty, managing director of city-based Adlib Audio, said: “This industry employs around one million highly-skilled people in the UK, many of whom have had no work since March.

“We have had no help whatsoever from the Government so far and the chancellor’s latest announcement offered nothing.

“Unless we get some support to save this industry, which actually contributes billions to the economy every year, 600,000 people stand to lose their jobs.”

He added: “We need support extended for the people and companies in this sector until they can return to work.”

The hour-long awareness event on Wednesday (September 30) will be socially distanced and all those who attend will have had to register, and will be monitored. 

Starting at 7.30pm, the event will see buildings throughout Liverpool illuminated in red.

A video will be screened on the side of the M&S Bank Arena, and a beam of white light symbolising 10,000 potential job losses will be shone into the sky – one of 60 with 59 other events being held around the UK.

Andy explained: “Many people thought that we would benefit from the £1.57bn support package that went into the arts sector, but that generally only covered those supported by the annual arts grants, like theatre, heritage sites, and a small amount for the small venue trust.

“The other 50%, the live entertainment, corporate events and production industry – the commercially viable sector which, incidentally, was the fastest growing industry in 2018 –  has not received any help at all.”

Andy is one of a group of people who have helped to pull together the #wemakeevents team to put the spotlight on the increasingly dire situation, and call for help before it’s too late. The team includes companies like Andy’s along with other major players from the industry including equipment manufacturers, production rental houses, distributors and freelancers.

His company was set up in 1984 and provides the sound, lighting, video, rigging equipment and technicians for major worldwide touring artists, corporate events, sporting events and festivals.

Until recently, he employed 167 full-time staff and provided work at any one time for up to 200 freelancers.

But he has already had to let 55 members of staff go – ‘which was soul-destroying’ – and faces worse unless he, and others like him, get support.

“We work in venues that have mass gatherings which are generally only commercially viable if they are at 80% capacity – social distancing at one metre averages a 30% capacity house – so it’s not viable even if we were able to stage events,” he said.

“As it is this sector has not worked since March 20. My company has lost around £11-12 million in revenue since that time – when we were looking to another record year.

“What frustrates me is that the Government has said there is no point supporting non-viable businesses – but this is viable.

“In fact, this is the fastest growing sector in the UK and, when we can bounce back, it is the industry that will bounce back quicker than any other. You only need to look at the ticket sales for shows that have been cancelled, and only 20% of people have asked for their money back.

“So 80% have kept their tickets for rescheduled shows. 

“That’s one example of how quickly it’s going to come back, on top of which everybody will be wanting some genuine entertainment. We have no fear about coming back or how quickly, it’s about when it’s allowed to come back and will it still be here because it hasn’t been supported correctly, if at all.”

Hope that Rishi Sunak’s announcement would have offered some help was shattered.

Andy said there was little appreciation for the skills in the sector and added that those within it would be forced to seek jobs elsewhere.

“That could then lead to a shortage of skills in the sector so that, when we can come back, the people we need won’t be there because they’ve had to find jobs in other areas because they’ve got homes and families to support.”

Andy stressed that the live entertainment industry provided people with an escape and memories – as well as making a massive contribution to the UK economy, and city economies: “A big arena show generates millions for an area via hotels, restaurants, and bars etc.

“It doesn’t make sense not to give it any help.”

The #wemaketeams RED ALERT – Stand as ONE event on Wednesday will, hopes Andy, raise awareness of the live entertainment sector, of what it does and how important it is, as well as its current plight.

And, ultimately, it will get it the help it needs to protect companies and employees within it until they can get back to work.

“We are looking at 12 months without income because it will likely be next March or April before we can come back,” he says. “We don’t need bank loans, we need Government grants. 

“Surely it makes sense to protect an industry that invests and puts so much into the economy every single year? We can and will come back – but we need help until then.”


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