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4,000+ organisers register for second ‘Unmute Us’ march

Dutch campaign group Unmute Us has already enlisted the support of 4,000 organisers for its second protest against the government’s restrictions on live events.

The first march took place on 21 August across six Dutch cities with around 2,000 event organisers and 70,000 people in what was the largest demonstration in the Netherlands since 2004.

Recently, the campaign group threatened the government with an even larger demonstration if its questions are left unanswered, since registering twice the amount of organisers than the original march as well as six new cities.

The group met with ministers yesterday evening (2 September) to discuss their eight key questions to the ‘arbitrary, incomprehensible and unjust’ event restrictions but did not come away with any resolutions.

“It is still inexplicable that in countries around us, measures from Fieldlab Events are being used but our sector is shut”

“The ministers have listened to the arguments and indicated that they will take them into account in their decision-making towards the next press conference on 14 September. That’s great, but no commitment and no reason to cancel Unmute Us,” says Jasper Goossen, co-initiator and spokesperson for Unmute Us.

“We detect an enormous willingness to take action, not only among the organisers but also among the public. And we want to reinforce our story and our arguments by taking to the streets en masse. Because it is still inexplicable that in countries around us, measures from Fieldlab Events are being used but that our sector is virtually shut down here.”

Unmute Us will hold the second march on 11 September at 2 pm CEST across eleven cities.

Leiden, Maastricht, Enschede, The Hague and Tilburg have joined the second protest march as new cities, while Groningen, Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are once again taking part. More cities are expected to be announced in the coming period.

The campaign has already drawn support from leading organisers such as Ziggo Dome, Awakenings, Down The Rabbit Hole, DGTL, A State of Trance Festival, Amsterdam Open Air, Best Kept Secret, Defqon, Dekmantel Festival, Lowlands, Mysteryland and Paaspop. More information can be found on the Unmute Us website.

 


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#WeMakeEvents: Global Action Day kicks off

The #WeMakeEvents Global Action Day kicked off in the southern hemisphere earlier today as venues in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were illuminated in red to highlight the urgent support needed for the events sector.

Thousands of venues and places of work across the globe will #LightInRed from 8pm local time in a bid to draw media attention and government support for the industry, which is struggling to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest first launched in the UK in August and has since been adopted internationally, inspiring similar protests in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Global Action Day will bring together around 20 countries, each campaigning for different resolutions from their respective governments.

While international lighting company Bandit Lites is lobbying for the Restart Act to be part of the next relief bill, Norway’s National Theatre has called for an extension in the compensation scheme, however, all nations will be united today under the red banner with the hope to progress the sector’s crisis.

“We mark the danger the industry is in after the government’s decision to end the compensation scheme for self-employed,” Norway’s National Theatre said in an Instagram post.

“The scheme introduced in April has so far hit well and ensured that independent art and cultural workers have survived the corona crisis until now. If the government does not turn in the decision, large parts of the industry will be eradicated.”

“The Restart Act as part of the next relief bill is the only thing that will save all of the live events industry. No other act will save us all,” Bandit Lites said in an Instagram post.

“We need [the government] to offer financial support to the crews that actually make it all possible”

Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the UK’s Glastonbury festival says: “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 the venues and organisations that put together these performances, but also to the crews that actually make it all possible.”

Coldplay are among the many international artists who have backed the campaign, adding: “Emily Eavis said it perfectly. The live music and events industry has been devastated. We urge the UK government to support all crew and staff who have lost their livelihoods.”

While Radiohead said: “What we do on stage 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.”

Yesterday, the UK held a second, silent and socially distanced, protest under the banner Stand As One, in Parliament Square.

It was also announced yesterday that a number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

Elsewhere, following Spain’s #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert (Alerta Roja) protest last week, the campaigning group has met with the minister for culture and sports to ask for a package of measures to support the country’s struggling production sector.

The meeting, which took place on Monday (28 September), saw minister José Luis Rodríguez Uribes commit to working in coordination with the relevant ministries, public institutions and the sector to find solutions to the crisis.

More highlights from the Global Action Day to follow.

 


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UK industry pros plan #WeMakeEvents charity cycle

A number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

The ride will commence in Newcastle on 3 October and take place over two weeks, concluding on 18 October in London.

The route is split up into daily stages ranging from 60km to 100km and cyclists will stop off at each venue to encourage media attention.

The cyclists will be followed by a tour bus, sponsored by Crossland, which the team will sleep in each night.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup

The general public has been invited to ride with the professionals or join them at a venue or the finishing line.

Donations can be made here. Over £4,000 has been raised so far.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests launched in the UK in August in a bid to draw attention to the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.

Similar demonstrations have taken place in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Today the UK is gearing up for round two of its campaign, Stand As One; a silent socially distanced protest which will take place in Parliament Square at 12:30 pm.

Tomorrow (30 September), around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

 


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#WeMakeEvents: UK industry gears up for round two

The UK events industry will hold a second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest tomorrow under the banner Stand As One, in a bid to gain sector-specific support from the government.

Last week, the chancellor announced a new Jobs Support Scheme, designed to support industries that are operating at 30-50% of normal capacity.

However, key figures and organisations pointed out that the events sector is currently operating at 1-5% of normal capacity – rendering the scheme useless to the industry.

The industry is also reckoning with the government’s previous announcement of a new 10 pm curfew, lasting for six months, as part of a slate of new restrictions intended to combat a second wave of Covid-19.

“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,” says a spokesperson from #WeMakeEvents, Stand As One.

“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.”

According to a new report, the night time economy has already taken a severe blow since the new government curfew was enforced, with over 300 businesses reporting a “catastrophic” drop in trade.

“Feedback from over 300 night time economy businesses on Thursday and Friday night across the country reported a catastrophic drop in trade, showing on average 62% down on previous weeks, believed to be solely due to the implementation of the new restrictions,” says the Night Time Industries Association CEO, Michael Kill.

“It looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months”

“Many business operators reported that customers were unwilling to allow the curfew to limit their evenings, and that many were seeking alternative locations to continue there social experience.

“It is very clear that the systematic closure of businesses at the same time has been counterproductive, culminating in overcrowding on public transport and dispersal routes.

“The sector has been very explicit in its feedback to the government regarding the impact of a 10 pm curfew on the night time economy, but we are yet to see the scientific evidence to substantiate the decision to implement this and we feel the sector has been unfairly targeted.”

The silent, socially distanced protest, Stand As One, will take place tomorrow (29 September) at 12:30 pm in Parliament Square.

It is the second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest to take place in the UK after the initiative launched in August and similar protests have taken place in France, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

On 30 September, around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

 


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Delight as Agent of Change adopted in London

To the delight of grassroots music venue campaigners in the city, London has adopted the Agent of Change principle.

Mayor Sadiq Khan added the directive to the new London Plan – a vital strategic document which sets out a vision for the development of the city. It means property developers have to take into account pre-existing businesses, such as music venues, when applying for planning permission. For example, the developer of new flats has to take responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a existing venue.

“It’s going to give grassroots venues greater confidence”

The move is the culmination of three years of hard campaigning by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) and music industry umbrella organisation UK Music. MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick said: “We’re really pleased. It’s going to give grassroots venues greater confidence because it shows they’re being taken a bit more seriously and that there’s a wish to alleviate some of the pressures they face.

“This sends a signal to other administrations around the UK that this can be done.”

But the campaign doesn’t stop there. The MVT has vowed to continue its fight until the Agent of Change principle is adopted into UK law.

On 10 January 2018, MP John Spellar is expected to introduce a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons calling on the government to make this a nationwide policy. His bill is backed across party lines, by former culture minister Ed Vaizey and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on music, David Warburton.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley has indicated the government would be willing to support Spellar’s bill, telling him in a recent parliamentary session that her office is already “working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward.”

In Wales, the government has pledged to introduce Agent of Change into future Planning Policy, while in Scotland, Lewis Macdonald MSP has been fighting to bring it into Scottish Planning Law.

“Developers aren’t the only pressure facing grassroots venues,” adds Whitrick. “Business rates, cultural funding and the differences in licensing are some of the other areas we’ll continue to campaign on.”

The Agent of Change principle was adopted in the Australian state of Victoria in 2014, following a campaign by music industry body Music Victoria.

 


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