'We were the first to stop and we'll be the last to end' - Wakefield workers call for financial support for music and live events staff

Thousands of music and live events workers will join a protest in Leeds this evening as they call for emergency funding from the government.

Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 4:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 4:48 pm
We Make Events will take place on Leeds. The organisers estimate that the average arena performance, which may feature only a handful of performers, provides work for up to 443 people, including drivers, warehouse staff, designers and more.

We Make Events: Red Alert events will be held across the country today, as thousands of members of the live events industry take to the streets to ask for support from the government.

The Leeds event, which will follow all social distancing guidelines, is expected to draw hundreds of local professionals.

Due to the nature of their work, which includes theatre, gigs and festivals, those in the live events industry were among the first to stop working as the pandemic began, and say they will likely be the last to return to their jobs full time.

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Among those joining the event in Leeds is freelancer Ryan McClintock, who formerly attended Backstage Academy, which offers specialist education in backstage training and live events management.

Ryan graduated from the South Kirkby-based university last year, and says he enjoyed several months of busy work before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

He said: "I had a fantastic year last year freelancing but then it all came to an end.

"There's over 5,000 people taking part across the country. We've organised a safe social distanced protest in Leeds.

"We're not saying there's not other industries who have suffered but we were the first to stop and we'll be the last to start."

The Red Alert day has been organised by PLASA, an international body who represent live events specialists across the world.

Although the government has promised more than £1.5bn in funding for the entertainment industry, PLASA say this does not apply to those in the live events sector, leaving many freelancers facing the "dire situation" of being unable to access financial support.

The group estimate that the average arena performance, which may feature only a handful of performers, provides work for up to 443 people, including drivers, warehouse staff, designers and more.

In a statement, PLASA said: "Government support packages for employees ends in October. As an industry that will be not be able to generate any income, we are asking the Government to “Throw us a line”.

"There are c1,000,000 employed in the UK delivering events 600,000 deliver outdoor events, 72% of whom are freelance, many of which have no access to any financial support.

"Most of the suppliers, including UK manufacturers in the events sector are not eligible for the £1.57bn bailout so will have to take out private lines of credit in order to continue. More redundancies and closures will appear in the news.

"More lives will be affected, not just by the financial burden, but by the mental health toll."