Legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith CBE was among the UK’s leading live industry figures who attended the #WeMakeEvents campaign in London last night (11 August).
The UK-wide initiative, organised by the Professional Lighting & Sound Association (Plasa), was launched in a bid to draw attention to the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.
Shows of support took place in towns and cities such as Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol and Manchester, where hundreds of out-of-work crew workers took part in a silent march past the city’s closed venues.
London’s display saw thousands of professionals from the sector dress in red and line the banks of the River Thames and the surrounding bridges near Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the Tate. The venues were lit in red to signal a “red alert”.
The finale saw a red-hued boat, carrying some of each industry’s most renowned figures including Goldsmith as well as singer-songwriter Frank Turner and Level 42 bassist Mark King, speed past the venues while the professionals and volunteers symbolised the “throw us a line” theme.
“These people here are the engine of our business. Without them, we don’t have a business,” Goldsmith told IQ.
“Making events is their livelihood so I’m all for events like this and I’m 100% behind what they’re doing. What they’ve done tonight with #WeMakeEvents is fantastic,” he concluded.
“None of us is worried about the future, we just all want to make sure we can get there”
Audiotonix CEO James Gordon delivered a keynote speech on the boat, relaying the top three objectives of the #WeMakeEvents campaign. The demands include a sector-specific furlough scheme, an extension to the self-employed and income support scheme for freelancers, and grants instead of loans for businesses in the supply chain that have been out of work.
“None of us is worried about the future, we just all want to make sure we can get there and return to being one of the fastest-growing sectors consistently in the UK,” Gordon said.
The UK’s live music sector, in particular, is currently pushing the government for a provisional date to reopen, a multi-year extension of the cultural VAT rate reduction beyond January in line with DCMS’s recent recommendations, and a government-backed reinsurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead.
UK venues were preparing to reopen from 1 August but the government pushed back the next step of lockdown easing by at least two weeks. Goldsmith says he hopes live shows will return without social distancing in the winter but the industry needs the green light first.
“We want a target date. We need four months to get ourselves together, in order to get back,” he tells IQ.
“We need to test out different systems for before people arrive at gigs. Social distancing doesn’t work. We want to do a test gig where we can use all of the available safety opportunities to prove that we could do it, like testing and tracking. And then once people are inside they’re inside. I’m working with some venues and we have everything lined up and ready to do a test show in November. We just need a target date.”
#WeMakeEvents follows on from the UK’s initial campaign, Let the Music Play, which highlighted the urgent need for government support to sustain the live industry’s broader ecosystem.
The initiative put forth a social media campaign and a letter laying out the necessary support measures, signed by artists and industry professionals, which was delivered to UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
Mere days after the campaign, the British government unveiled a £1.57bn package of grants and loans for music and arts organisations, the details of which were later revealed.
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