The Associates: NAA, Plasa, Prodiss
Covid-19 has impacted every business sector around the world, but with live entertainment likely to be one of the last industries to return, given social distancing regulations, the associations that represent its millions of employees have never been more important.
As restrictions in many countries enter yet another month, for issue 91 IQ found out more about some of our association partners and discovered just what they are doing to help their members navigate and survive.
Following the last instalment with Liveurope, Music Managers Forum and Music Venue Trust, this time we check in with the National Arenas Association, Plasa and Prodiss.
The National Arenas Association (UK & Ireland)
The National Arenas Association (NAA) represents 23 UK- and Republic of Ireland-based arenas, all of which have a capacity of 5,000 or more.
The organisation focuses on best practice, networking, and achieving consistency across the arena network.
The NAA also offers comprehensive training courses with a variety of modules for those working in the industry.
Membership fees are £1,400 (€1,570) per year, plus a contribution to the NAA training programme.
Throughout the pandemic situation, the NAA has been engaging with its members as much as possible through email, video meetings and regular steering committee meetings.
The chair of the NAA also sits on the board of the UK Live Music Group, which has been instrumental during this period, allowing arena operators to provide input to UK Music as a whole, which is continuously lobbying government on pertinent issues regarding venues and the live entertainment sector.
Along with the Concert Promoters Association and the British Association of Concert Halls, the NAA has also formed a working group to focus on the reopening of venues.
The chair of the association is there to answer questions from any members of the NAA.
The NAA offers comprehensive training courses with a variety of modules for those working in the industry
Plasa is the lead membership body for those who supply technologies and services to the event and entertainment industries.
Its members represent global manufacturers and distributors; production specialists; iconic venues; regional rental houses; and freelancers.
Plasa members work across the complete spectrum of events and entertainment, with involvement in concerts and touring; festivals; performing arts; film and TV; and major sporting projects.
It’s all about pro-audio, all kinds of lighting, pyrotechnics, lasers, smoke machines, massive screens, special effects, set and staging, and most importantly, creative people who love what they do.
Plasa currently has 425 company and individual members from all sectors of the industry. Business membership costs £350-1,100 (€390-1240).
Organisations such as industry bodies and education institutes can join for £200 (€225), and individuals can join for only £95 (€106).
As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, Plasa stepped up, lobbying the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Department for International Trade, to secure the same valuable support available to other sectors.
Recently, Plasa collaborated with like-minded associations in the entertainment sector to launch the #EventsForTheFuture initiative with the collective aim of amplifying that voice.
The association has conducted two member surveys looking at the short-term and predicted long-term impacts of the pandemic, and experiences of accessing government support.
The results of both have since been published and shared with government.
Plasa members work across the complete spectrum of events and entertainment
Prodiss is the principal organisation representing the live music industry (promoters, festivals and venues) in France.
Its 400 member companies account for 80% of the turnover of the French live sector.
Prodiss acts as an ambassador for its members, providing a united voice when dealing with public, national and European institutions, in order to defend their interests and lobby for a legislative and regulatory framework that is favourable to live industry development.
The organisation encompasses complementary activities that provide its members with practical and essential services (such as legal, economical, etc.) that accelerate and strengthen their competitiveness.
Prodiss is managed by Malika Séguineau, and its board of directors is chaired by Corida promoter Olivier Darbois.
Prodiss has estimated that the loss of revenue for its member companies throughout the coronavirus pandemic is around €1.8billion.
At the start of the crisis, they set up a strategic action unit, both for its members and to form the communication chain with the government.
Crisis management has included daily individual legal support for members; monitoring of legislative and economical developments related to Covid-19; situation analysis at economical level; and crisis exit scenarios.
The trade body has also organised numerous working groups related to the issues of ticketing, insurance, health protocols, and economic support.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Harvey Goldsmith: ‘Crew are the engine of our business’
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.
Netherlands to adopt Germany’s Night of Live
Buildings in the Netherlands belonging to professionals in the event industry will be illuminated red to encourage governmental support for the country’s struggling live sector.
Night of Live will take place during the night of 25-26 August in a bid to draw attention to the problems in the events sector caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The initiative was originally launched in Germany on the night of 22-23 June and saw thousands of music-related buildings from 1,500 cities across the country turn red to protest the continuation of the industry’s shutdown.
“If we don’t take action, we will face a wave of bankruptcies. The colour red represents the love for and fraternization of the event industry, the red list of endangered industries and red alarm,” says Stijn Oude Vrielink, owner of Venue Marketing, who initiated the campaign.
“The red represents the love for and fraternization of the event industry, the red list of endangered industries and red alarm”
“This campaign was so successful that I wanted to organize something similar for the Netherlands,” says Oude Vrielink. “We started preparations a month ago and we went live this week. Everyone is very enthusiastic.”
The UK also took inspiration from Night of Live and on 6 July, #LightItInRed initiated a lighting action that saw nearly 700 buildings, monuments, landmarks, and spaces all over the UK lit in “emergency red” to raise awareness about the challenges facing the live events industry.
The initiative’s organisers, the Professional Lighting & Sound Association (Plasa), will launch the next phase of the campaign on 11 August. The Red Alert initiative will once again light music-related buildings in red to prompt the government to take action with the £1.57 billion culture rescue fund.