Unsung Heroes 2020: Sandra Beckmann & Tom Koperek
Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.
We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Sandra Beckmann and Tom Koperek, who conceived the #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) campaign in Germany, and follow Just a Bunch of Roadies’ Charlie Hernandez.
As a single mother of three children, Sandra Beckmann embodies the mantra that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. A 25-year veteran of the live entertainment industry, she began her career as a freelance technician for light and video installations, but over the years developed a specialist network dedicated to providing all kinds of services to run events and stage shows.
At the end of 2019, she launched service agency Event-Kombinat, for which the future was looking bright until the coronavirus took its hold and she realised that without live events, the industry would face a wave of insolvencies.
Beckmann took it upon herself to raise awareness of the plight of those working behind the scenes and began banging on the doors of politicians to highlight the situation, which helped her gain access to some of the earliest high-level coronavirus crisis meetings in Berlin.
Aside from her lobbying activities, her social media campaign drew together more than 3,500 members across all parts of the live entertainment business for the Initiative für die Veranstaltungswirtschaft (Initiative for the Event Industry.) However, when the design of the first support programmes did not meet the needs of those working in this business, she decided to revise her strategy.
Beckmann teamed up with Tom Koperek from LK AG to work on the Night of Light campaign, which won nationwide attention on the night of 22 June when more than 8,000 buildings in over 1,000 cities were simultaneously illuminated red as a flaming memorial in reference to the terrible situation in the event industry.
The project’s mission was to force dialogue between industry representatives and political players to underline the dire circumstances of the live events business and establish tailor- made support measures for the industry.
In fact, the Night of Light was more than just a media success. Companies all over the world have joined the campaign and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid and support.
Companies all over the world have joined the campaign, and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid
Ironically, in Germany, its organisers say that the concept was perceived as a nice ambient lighting event, and that politically, it moved nothing. “Instead it caused the alliance of #AlarmstufeRot to be born,” says Beckmann.
On 5 August, demonstrations took place simultaneously in front of the houses of provincial governments in several federal states, and every Wednesday at 12.05pm, demonstrations under the banner of #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) took place nationwide, leading up to the first major demonstration in Berlin on 9 September, where around 15,000 protesters took part in a march, as well as about 500 vehicles on the car route.
This demonstration finally achieved one of its main mission targets, as the first serious dialogue with various governmental officials quickly followed and Beckmann even had a meeting with Olaf Scholz, the minister of finance, which paved the way for a dedicated rescue summit.
“I am so proud of this movement, its joint efforts and achievements, but above all of my ‘job family,’ which has once again shown that we as an industry are capable of great things,” Beckmann adds.
For his part, Koperek says, “At the beginning of the corona crisis it almost seemed to me that politicians apparently have never even heard of the term ‘live events industry.’” However, thanks to the work of everyone involved in the Red Alert alliance, he reveals, “We now have a community of almost 50,000 followers on Facebook and almost 40,000 followers on Instagram. This makes the alliance #AlarmstufeRot the largest group to advocate for the various segments of the live entertainment industry in Germany.”
But the battle is ongoing. Rather than running his own business enterprises, Koperek says he now spends 80% of his time working for Alarmstufe Rot. He pays tribute to LK business partner Sven Robusch, and adds that, “A small core team are working tirelessly and intensively on all corporate issues.” He ends by saying, “We can’t stand by and watch the world’s hottest industry hit the wall. We must not give up. There will be a life with events, even after corona!”