Radiohead, Idles and The Libertines are among thousands calling on the UK government to offer a lifeline to the entertainment industry amid fears it will not survive Covid-19 restrictions.
The #WeMakeEvents campaign has seen musicians, artists, venues, actors, creatives, and events staff flood social media with messages about the importance of live events and the dire straits in which professionals find themselves, as part of its “global action day” on September 30.
Hilary Goodfellow, a freelance events manager, site manager and cultural producer from Glasgow, is among those who have seen their livelihoods turned upside-down.
“It is fucking brutal,” she told The Big Issue. “Personally, I have lost more than £25,000 from April to October. I had to go onto Universal Credit for the first time in my life. £97 a week. £97 a week does not even pay my mortgage, let alone allow money for food.
“I had to take a payment holiday from paying my mortgage and stop paying into my pension.”
Events company Eventbrite estimated the industry was worth £42.3 billion to the UK economy in 2018, accounting for over a third of the “visitor economy” and nearly 600,000 jobs.
Hilary has previously worked on a wide variety of national and international events, including the Commonwealth Games, T in the Park, and major outdoor shows for artists such as Pink – all of which, she points out, have given people enjoyment, provided jobs and created economic benefits.
This summer, she should have been working on a series of events and festivals including the Royal Highland Show and the Edinburgh Fringe – but all have been cancelled, due to government restrictions.
“Obviously, in a pandemic when people’s lives are at stake, we need to minimise risk and the chance of community transmission, but what is now happening is that the events industry has been abandoned and is in a state of free fall, with no meaningful support from the Government,” she said.
“This is an industry which performed exceptionally well before the Covid-19 crisis, has always been a self-supporting sector, and has performed well during previous recessions. With appropriate support and protection, the sector could bounce back rapidly and has the potential to develop and create further benefits to the UK economy.”
We are yet again calling on this government to urgently support the live events sector which is in desperate need of financial aid…#WeMakeEvents @WeMakeEventsoff #LetTheMusicPlay pic.twitter.com/UFLKlQ0IZJ
— Echo & the Bunnymen (@Bunnymen) September 30, 2020
The #WeMakeEvents campaign, launched by the Professional Sound and Lighting Association in April, is asking for a government backed Covid-19 insurance scheme to ensure, if local lockdowns happen, event organisers will recover costs and attendees will receive a refund.
They also want government support for Covid-19 testing at events, an extension to the reduced VAT tax on tickets, and more specific support for businesses and workers in the events supply chain until the government guidelines change on social distancing to allow a commercially viable return to work.
Among the big-name acts and individuals supporting the campaign are Radiohead, who wrote on Twitter: “What we do onstage is only part of the equation of putting on a good show. Our crew are at the heart of making it happen for all of us, band and audience alike. They’re incredible and that’s why we’re supporting #WeMakeEvents and invite you to do so as well, if possible.”
What we do onstage is only part of the equation of putting on a good show. Our crew are at the heart of making it happen for all of us, band and audience alike. They’re incredible and that’s why we’re supporting #WeMakeEvents and invite you to do so as well, if possible. CEJPT x pic.twitter.com/QD5AIrZ4Gu
— Radiohead (@radiohead) September 30, 2020
Housemartins and Beautiful South singer Paul Heaton tweeted: “Today we stand with our friends & colleagues throughout the music industry to once again call on the government to take action and support the huge number of skilled people whose careers & businesses are currently at risk.”
“We need our government to recognise that immediate action must be taken to protect our events industry. No crew, no show, no joy,” said Mercury Prize nominee Nadine Shah.
Like #WeMakeEvents, The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance continues fight to protect people’s jobs and keep families in their homes. To join our campaign, and get weekly updates about what you can do, click here.