Representatives of the UK’s events industry are staging a socially distanced protest outside of Parliament to voice their concerns over the government’s latest Covid support measures, which have shown a lack of consideration for those in the live music and night-time sectors.
The protest preempts a day of activism on September 30 by the #WeMakeEvents movement, a growing collective of organisations, companies and freelancers across the world looking to highlight how the live events sector urgently needs support from local governments to survive the Covid-19 crisis.
Last week, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced various schemes to replace the programmes that had been financially supporting workers since the initial lockdown in March. However, the new schemes require companies to be slowly returning towards normal capacity before the government subsidies can be activated.
The rules state that an employee needs to be working at least 33% of their usual hours and their employer needs to cover at least 55% of their usual salary, however, financial support for freelancers is capped at just 20% of their usual average income.
Despite exempting music venues from the 10pm curfew rules, the government have offered very little support to those in the live music and night-time sectors who are still yet to open due to the latest lockdown restrictions.
In an appearance on Sky News, the UK’s Minister for Care, Helen Whately, confirmed that the government would no longer focus on providing aid for the nightlife industry, stating: “[It] doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment … we’ve got to support people where they can be working”. Interviewer Kay Burley responded: “So you’re not going to support the nightlife industry? It’s done? Finished?”
Health Minister @Helen_Whately: “It doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment.”
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 28, 2020
Responding to the government’s announcement, organisers of the UK’s #WeMakeEvents campaign stated: “With the increased restrictions that have been announced, it looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months”
“This means that the majority of businesses in our sector will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support their contribution towards employees’ salaries, nor will they be able to contract in the huge self-employed community within the industry”.
The live events industry is expected to take yet another hit due to the government’s latest measures.
Every person here has produced an event, experience or moment that has been the highlight of your week, month or life. Now we are being left our fate by a govt unwilling or unable to understand that #WeMakeEvents and contribute exponentially to the economy and culture of the UK. pic.twitter.com/K50vd0wFNz
— Paul Stanway (@SuperStanners) September 29, 2020
The #WeMakeEvents silent protest is now underway. More than 700 #eventprofs have gathered at Parliament Square. Everyone is wearing a mask and socially distancing. @BorisJohnson, you must provide immediate support to the #EventsIndustry pic.twitter.com/8sdoN2nxEo
— Exhibition News (@ExhibitionNews) September 29, 2020