By now you may have noticed that we aren't really about just pushing out PR pieces, instead looking to do things differently, bringing to light questions that if answered properly will help us to grow and push on as an industry. Here we ask how we are going to back up the great work of ESSA and others, if we do manage to get the proper attention of government and those that can help save jobs and protect the industry.
ESSA continue to lead the fight for events industry protection from Covid-19 by launching the second wave of social media coverage, tagging in numerous journalists, the Prime Minister, and The Chancellor. Yet to be paid any attention from the govt by way of funding, the events sector is currently struggling to identify itself, with common theory suggesting that we don't really fit under the umbrella of another industry, but at the same time are not seen as an industry in its own right. That seems to be the reasoning (excuse) as to why the govt has thus far been unwilling to engage with us, or offer any kind of meaningful support to a huge number of #eventprofs who are struggling through this pandemic.
Why are we looking at the pandemic in a different way to many other industries? By that, what I mean is, why are other industries not asking for extra bailouts from the government? I think there's a pretty good argument that it’s because more often than not, our events are annual, meaning that the knock on from Covid-19 means that our businesses will be adversely affected by this for not only one show cycle, but in most cases, 2. I am pretty sure that this is why as an industry we feel as if we are more in need of extra funding. We are sure to see the effects of Covid-19 for much longer than other industries who have a more transactional style of doing things.
Why is it that we sit in the flux? Why is it seemingly so difficult to recognise an industry that employs over 600,000 people and brings over £70bn of value into the economy every year?
Maybe the government think the one size fits all approach means that all businesses will survive. Helping businesses through the furlough system until the end of October and thinking nothing else of it is a short sighted, bury their heads in the sand style of thinking that may well see a lot of very very good people in the dole queue if it's not addressed properly, and soon.
The government have bought themselves some good favour by launching, and then extending the furlough scheme, but that doesn't solve all problems for all industries, and it is likely that the events industry will suffer more than most. The Live Events Market has been decimated this year with no events of scale likely across the entire British summer, meaning organisers, suppliers and venues go a full summer without revenue. When you consider the effect that this is likely to have on the industry economically, it would be remiss of anyone not to expect a large number of casualties. These businesses however, are likely to be able to take advantage of the furlough scheme until the end of October by which time they're planning for the events in 2021, which we hope will allow them to stay afloat long enough to see revenue returning into the business.
Those with annual events that have been postponed to later into the year or cancelled into 2021 are either losing a full years revenue meaning a 2 year show cycle, or a show cycle of around 18 months. There are a number of examples of events that have pushed back already but will most likely see another postponement. Imagine your event was in March, was postponed but you booked it for July. It's now incredibly unlikely that an event of substantial numbers will be allowed until much later in the year than that and so you are stuck. What do you do? These events bring in a huge amount of revenue, and without them it is incredibly difficult to survive. Do you try and push back again to even later in the year? Maybe there is a competitor show already in the diary at that time of year and so it's difficult to re-schedule.
You become one of those businesses that loses out on a full years revenue because you lose a full event. Do you refund the revenue you have collected? No doubt in a lot of cases this has been used to keep the business afloat, robbing Peter to pay Paul as it were, and so your only other option is to validate the same tickets purchased for the 2020 show in 2021. Those businesses who have managed to reschedule successfully in 2020, what happens to the show in 2021? Does it go back to its old tenancy? Will exhibitors be willing to go to two editions of the same show within a 6 month period if the original tenancy dates are preferred? How are businesses going to be able to cope with events not being staged at all? Companies who run awards shows are a perfect example…. Even if they can reschedule awards for the 2019 working period, they're staring down the barrel of no awards in 2021 because having possibly not worked in 2020, there will be nothing to judge!
These are the questions that need answering in depth, and taking to the government to back up the social media posts we are doing, the posts where we are tagging Bojo and the Chancellor. ESSA and others who are standing up for the industry and making the right noises to the right people are doing a great job of doing so, but if we do catch the ears of those people who can really make a difference, don't we need some kind of joined up thinking on how we will be affected? Does this exist? Are the industry really willing to come together and have open and honest conversations for the sake of the wider events community which will give us the answers that we can take back to government? Or in reality are we unwilling to work together and bear our souls to each other for the greater good? I would argue that a lot of people like to be seen to be doing something, rather than actually doing anything, and that in this instance this way of acting is going to have far greater consequences than it would normally.