I am…Alice Hunt, aged 32, Senior Event Producer at We Make Stuff Happen.
I work on…all sorts of events, ranging from family music festivals, to private functions, cultural events, experiential (experience-based) promotional activations for films, and large public events, like the Regent Street Christmas Lights Switch On and Regent Street Summer Streets. I live in Glasgow, but I work remotely for We Make Stuff Happen who are based in Brighton. My work takes me all over the UK on a regular basis, but has also taken me further afield, to Berlin, Ibiza and New York.
This year…We were about to produce the St Patricks Festival in Birmingham, the third largest St Patrick’s Day celebration in the world, attended by approximately 70,000 people, for which I was the Production Manager. I flew down for the final days of prep, only for me to take a call at the airport when I landed, that we had to cancel. This was back when the government were still telling us there was ‘little risk’ to the public from Covid-19, when it came to attending events. I believed them, and had held out hope that the event might still happen. But instead I spent the day cancelling bookings from over 30+ contractors and freelance staff, flew back to Glasgow, and I’ve not had an event to work on since. It’s been 6 months.
I hope…that events will begin to happen again next summer, and safe and economically viable ways can be found to facilitate that. I hope next summer is full of events. It would be cathartic, full of celebration, full of families and friends getting together, and our industry would be re-born, and back doing what it does best.
But I worry…that the industry, that I’ve worked to be a part of since I was 16, will collapse. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m a salaried employee, for a company in a strong financial position who were able to furlough me. But I honestly don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep paying me when furlough ends. The new scheme is not fit for our industry, when we can’t go back to work. Every day when I look at my facebook feed, I see people who do the same job as me, who work on the same events I work on, being made redundant, or crying out for help, because they’ve slipped through the net of what little help there has been available for freelancers in particular. Contractors we use, who provide PA and Lighting for the biggest bands around, are talking about closing up shop if they haven’t done so already. These people I know – performers, DJ’s, club promoters, gig promoters, sound and lighting technicians, site electricians, fabricators, prop builders, carpenters and crew…we’ve put everything into building our careers. We put everything into what we do. The outdoor events industry alone had 141.5 million visitors in 2018, spending onsite and offsite generated around £39.5 billion, which contributes £30.4 billion in GVA. We did that. But now we are just…‘not-viable’.
I am…Lucy Bainton, 46, Creative Producer at We Make Stuff Happen.
I work on…anything and everything creative from small pop ups events, interactive events, experiential displays, promotional props – you name it we can do it.
This year…has had a devastating effect on the events industry. The nature of Covid, paired with the poor governmental leadership and complete lack of insight has brought the entire events industry to a grinding halt, effecting the lives of so many talented people.
I hope…that the government have the foresight to understand the importance of this industry to the economy, to support it, keep it alive, until it is able to get back on its feet.
But I worry…that if action isn’t taken then the world would be stripped of creativity, it would have a catastrophic impact not only on the economy, but on the self employed and the freelancers who depend on it.
I am… JD, Co-founder of We Make Stuff Happen.
I work on… overseeing the 50 or so events we produce a year. We’re a relatively small company, but we provided entertainment for around 1.5million people in 2019.
This year... has been a real challenge. Watching not just your own diary clear but that of all your industry friends is not something I ever expected to have to deal with. It’s also been an opportunity to reflect on what I value as a person and who we are as a company, and to think about how to take everything we’ve learned from this forward.
I hope… the industry will emerge from the dumpster fire that has been 2020 like a phoenix from the flames.
But I worry… for the many freelancers, sole traders, and micro-businesses that are part of the events industry eco-system and are currently struggling, and the young people who finished school or graduated university this year and would’ve spent the summer gaining valuable work experience at festivals and events. Events is one of the few industries that values people for what they can do rather than their background or connections; it’s a key industry for both creating social mobility and offering opportunities to people from disadvantaged demographics. You can enter the industry as a box pusher with few formal qualifications and rise through the ranks to positions of real responsibility, gaining skills while in employment—it’s an industry that genuinely rewards hard work, where people freely share their expertise with younger workers to allow them to advance, and where teamwork isn’t a buzzword but a way of life. As an industry, we have to stand together and do what we can to support each other, and make sure the crews, technicians, creatives, and production managers of the future aren’t lost to other industries. Our skills and community are valuable. Whether it’s public events, festivals, theatre, art exhibitions, live music, or fashion shows, we create the moments that make life worth living.
A lot of people have been asking what they can do to help. One of the best ways to support everyone in events is to use a service like Write to Them to contact your MP and tell them what events mean to you, how valuable they are to our culture, and ask them to support us with targeted financial packages. We contribute £84billion to the UK economy every year—it will take a fraction of that to keep us going until events can re-start. You can also learn more about the We Make Events campaign here.