A FREELANCE visual designer from Chester who has worked on some of the UK’s biggest live events – including last year’s Glastonbury Festival – took part in a national protest calling on the Government to provide more support for the struggling industry.
Alex Douglas, 21, joined around 1,300 colleagues from the live events industry for a recent silent, socially distanced protest at Parliament Square in London to highlight the issues they are facing.
The former Bishop Heber High School student, who is a freelance visual designer and lighting operator, has worked on the world famous Glastonbury festival and for major international stars including Beyonce.
However, the Covid-19 lockdown saw Alex lose his regular income overnight, resulting him having to move back home as he was unable to afford rent and living costs.
Alex, who studied technical theatre at West Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port campus and at the internationally acclaimed Backstage Academy, has since turned his hand to web designing – which he juggles with a part-time job – but fears for the future of the industry he has spent so long training for a career in.
Speaking about his support for the ‘We Make Events Campaign’ protest, he said: “The last three years really have been the craziest years of my life so far, all due to working in this exhilarating and rewarding industry.
“It has also made me aware how big this industry is and how much it contributes to the UK economy, and how the UK wouldn’t be the same without its world-renowned, vibrant arts and events culture.
Alex Douglas from Chester. Photo credit: pro.joephotography
“The global pandemic has decimated the industry and the Government appears to have thrown us to the wolves, providing very little in the way financial support for freelancers who make up the majority of those who work in the sector.
“I had to take a stand and join my colleagues to help raise awareness of the dire situation facing the industry and those who rely on it for a living.”
Alex is urging the Government to introduce measures to support the industry.
He said: “The ending of the furlough scheme will also have a huge impact on those companies who directly work in the industry, not to mention suppliers and manufacturers all of whom rely on a thriving events industry.
“This sector is worth over £100bn to the national economy, 95% of live events have been cancelled due to Covid-19, a staggering 96% of companies have cut staff and/or wages, and 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income.
“The We Make Events Campaign is simply asking the Government to bring in measures which will help the industry get back on its feet including an industry specific support scheme which would be in place until guidelines change on social distancing to allow a viable return to work.
“We also believe that Covid-19 testing for event attendees will also be vital as part of the safe reopening of venues.”
Alex added: “The only current work in the sector is going to the full-time employees which is understandable. Despite my experience, being a recent graduate freelancer I am right at the bottom of the pile for hiring at the moment.
“This has resulted in me finding a part-time job and working on the occasional website design for a small number of existing clients while I watch friends, co-workers and peers slowly lose their jobs, suffer from no work and being forced to find alternatives with no end in sight.
“The Government has to realise the importance to the economy of the live events industry and the people who work in it.”