Bryan’s Open Letter: Ten Months On

It’s nearly ten months since I wrote this open letter asking for support for the Live Events supply chain. A lot has happened since then: the pandemic eased a little in the Autumn and then quickly got worse, various pressure groups such as #WeMakeEvents were formed and helped raise awareness, and there were global events held which highlighted the value, both culturally and economically, of our sector. However, we need to be realistic and say that nothing truly significant has changed and that support is still desperately needed. As such, I thought I’d revisit the open letter from last year and honestly assess which (if any) of the points have been addressed and what this has meant for WL and the wider industry.






Let’s look at the ten points I raised:






1 – Social Distancing – This still remains in place so, as such, makes live events impossible, commercially unviable and, not forgetting, currently illegal






2 – A need to recognise that the supply chain is effectively closed and requires support – Unfortunately, this never really happened and the vast majority of companies in the sector have NOT received business rates relief as this was made discretionary for councils to decide and most of them decided NOT to offer it. However retail shops that have remained open throughout HAVE received business rates relief…






3 – Offer support for Covid-related costs – Again, nothing has been forthcoming.






4 – Withdrawal of JRS/furlough needs to be phased – In all fairness, this was actually a success as the scheme has been extended until the end of April. That said, it needs to be continued until we are fully back at work – which is probably September at the earliest for most of us. And let’s be honest, nobody in our sector will keep people on Furlough any longer than they have to as we are all pining to get back to work.






5 – Support for the Freelance Community – As highlighted by the relentless work of #WeMakeEvents, this is still sadly missing for a huge section of our workforce, either because they didn’t earn 50% of their income as a freelancer, were sole directors of their company, or were newly freelance. These people have been without work for nearly a year and this dire situation needs addressing ASAP.






6 – Support for Our Customers – The producers and promoters still need event insurance. They need a clear roadmap so they can plan their way out of the mess and they need the VAT deal extending for another year to aid recovery (when it comes).






7- Extend ‘Time to Pay’ – Based on WL’s experience, this has been a partial success with most government bodies being sympathetic to the issue. Whilst they haven’t waived our costs, they have extended the payment terms.






8 – Pressure on Commercial Landlords to Help – This sadly has been a complete failure with our own landlord trying impose a 60% increase in our rent from December 2020. We are also hearing similar stories from others. 






9 – Increase Corporation Tax to Help Balance the Books – It will be a while before many companies in our sector will be paying corporation tax again but there are sectors who have boomed during this period. As such, they should be paying their fair share to help the overall economic recover, rather than sending their profits overseas and avoiding tax.






10 – Develop a Vaccine – I added this tenth point as a bit of a joke back in May to make it a well rounded ten point plan. Little did any of us think that this is the one part of the plan that the government would deliver on and we must take our hats off to them for this amazing achievement.






So there we have it. Almost a year on and the majority of issues we were facing in the initial stages of the crisis still remain in place. Please keep up the pressure on the authorities. Write to your MPS and your local councils and insist on help and support for the supply chain for the events sector as the industry won’t recover without the freelancers and suppliers. Also, please follow and get involved with the #WeMakeEvents campaign as the more of us who make a noise, the more likelihood that someone will listen.  




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