Cumbrian event companies fear for the future

Cumbrian based event companies have spoken out on the dangers facing their industry, with some fearing artists and crew may be lost for good.

A UK wide Red Alert campaign was launched recently to highlight concerns to government. The response was to change guidance for the performing arts on August 13. From August 15 performances can now take place indoors and outdoors, but must be socially distanced indoors, which will constrain the ticket sales per performance.

Events and festivals were cut off in March when the pandemic was peaking, and the industry fears normality may not return until early spring 2021, with many freelancers and sole traders now having no income at all, and wondering what is next.

Oliver Hodgson, managing director of Platinum Live Ltd, based in Gosforth, said: “The events industry is a phenomenal, exciting and modern industry to work in, but right now we need support both for companies and individuals new and old. The news on Thursday evening was very much welcome that indoor performances could return, however, this is one small step on the road to recovery and a long road until full normality resumes for the industry. With stripped back, smaller events and shows the requirements for staff and professionals are still very little, and therefore many people will still be out of work for a while yet. We still can’t have conferences with hundreds, music festivals are very different if they are going ahead, and are also again rather stripped back, concerts in larger venues are still a no and having such low numbers isn’t going to be financially viable really either.”

“Everyone loves going to watch their favourite artist or attend their local festivals, but little do they know currently the thousands of people who make that concert happen are now completely out of work and the date of a full return is still unknown. Of course, we are all very much in agreement that the safety of ourselves and the public is at the forefront of the government’s decision making and I agree 100 per cent safety comes first, but financial support tailored to this sector is desperately needed not necessarily for me, but for those freelancers, larger firms and staff who have had no income for weeks. ”

Damo Hartshorn, technical director of BlackFX, at Barrow, said: “Many don’t realise the army of people involved in a concert or festival they attend. These events employ thousands of freelancers and sole traders every year and not just in the summer season.”

“Spreading the word is really important, in order to get the attention of the central Government to provide advice and support as soon as possible, for those with no income at all.”

Chris Edgar, owner of Balance Pro Audio, Kendal, added: “We need urgent action. The Covid-19 crisis has devastated the whole music and live events sector. It feels like so many talented people are being forgotten about and if government support doesn’t come soon we’ll be at risk of losing many important crew members for good. We need music and events to maintain our social and cultural wellbeing, live music and events will form part of a healthy future for everyone and we need help soon before more people get left behind!”

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