LCR Music Board members call for more recognition and support for the live events and entertainment sector
Liverpool City Region Board Member, and Managing Director of Adlib, Andy Dockerty, explains how the current media focus is on problems faced by the hospitality sector, neglecting to recognise how the problems also impact massively on events sector. Andy is also a founding member of the #wemakeevents campaign which aims to gain recognition and support for the live events sector.
We are all aware of the current situation, but as on previous occasions everyone seems to be focusing on hospitality. Yet again, the major contributor, the events sector is being over-looked; not so much financially at the moment, as there has been no additional support for anyone to date, but in terms of recognition and publicity. It is imperative that the events sector and its supply chain is not over-looked to a point where it may miss out on additional support in the future.
December is traditionally a busy month for the Events and supply chain and on the 16th and 17th December Adlib alone has witnessed £750,000 worth of work cancelled that was scheduled from now to the end of January. Compounding that, we will still have to (and want to) pay all the wages and a percentage of sub-hire bills adding further substantial debt.
Business was down 80% in November 2020 compared to November 2019, and in many cases it was already back to 100% of the 2019 figures in November 2021, proving how robust and viable the sector truly is, and proof that it should be supported when not able to earn. This meant that the sector could finally start to repay the substantial debts accrued through Covid. Although business returned quickly, it was somewhat different, and a lot more costly with Brexit playing a major role in that.
The frustration for the events sector is that having survived 18 months of the pandemic restrictions it already had a long road to recovery head. Remember even when hospitality returned yet the events sector couldn’t, consequently amassing further debt than the widely publicised hospitality sector.
It is important that the events and live entertainment sector gets the recognition it deserves. There needs to be a greater appreciation of its financial power and the fact that it is a £70bn industry. Ultimately the current cancellations and uncertainty means the sector will need to be supported with some much needed additional financial assistance.
Michael Eakin, Chair of LCR Music Board, and CEO of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, replicated Andy’s sentiment and show of support.
The live entertainment business has taken a huge hit during the pandemic and its recovery remains fragile. This autumn has seen venues, theatres, and tours back up and running, but audiences are not yet fully back up to normal levels. The last few weeks, with the arrival of Omicron, has seen ticket sales for performances over the crucial Christmas period stop in their tracks. Across the country, including here in Liverpool, venues are reporting up to 40% no-shows from ticket holders, with severe knock on impact on bar and merchandise sales. Many performances, especially in London, but around the country, have been cancelled at short notice due to Covid amongst cast/staff.
In previous lockdowns many businesses were supported through the government’s furlough scheme, and the Culture Recovery Fund. This support was critical in keeping businesses afloat, and securing thousands of jobs here in Liverpool, and across the country. The threat right now is that businesses are carrying all of their costs, but receiving a fraction of their normal income – with no support currently in place. It seems clear that as we deal with this new and rapidly spreading wave of Covid, we are in for a tough Christmas and start to 2022.
The help the industry received in 2020 and the first half of 2021 was vital in ensuring its survival. But that investment will have been wasted if the sector isn’t supported through this latest crisis. We need a new plan, and support, to protect businesses and jobs through the winter. And we need to ensure that the many freelance artists and workers, on whom this industry depends, are supported as well.
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