Job Losses could reach tens of thousands

The festival and events industry has been ‘left on the shelf’, according to senior industry leaders, and will lose some of the UK’s most recognised event and festival brands over the next three months, as well as face job losses reaching the tens of thousands.

The announcement follows warnings from the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) last month that the industry was looking at irreversible damage, with many businesses unable to guarantee existence past July 2020. The industry has been calling for urgent government support for the many events and support businesses that have seen cancellations this summer. The long lead time of creating events has effectively meant businesses have written off the busy summer season of events, with winter festivals and Hogmanay events now increasingly under threat as well.

Tom Clements

President, NOEA

“We surveyed our members last month and reported to the government that 51% will not see the end of 2020 without support, and 41% only have enough liquidity for the next 1-3 months,” commented Tom Clements, President, NOEA. “Another month has passed and as yet we have had nothing concrete; only minimal guidance for a fraction of events, no universal restart date, and no support packages. We’ve been left on the shelf and watched as other industries have been given priority. The response has been too little, too late, and because of that we’re looking at losing some of the best events, some of the most dynamic support companies, and some of the most creative talent we have here in the UK.”

The National Outdoor Events Association has remained consistent in its commitment to supporting the government’s efforts to control the virus whilst protecting its member’s businesses. “We’re a responsible industry and we understand risk, crowd management, health, and safety. But time has run out, events take time to organise and the process has been so slow that the summer has been effectively wiped out, we’re increasingly concerned about the winter events as well now,” continues Tom.

“Once we have a universal start date from the government, we can assess the risk to audiences depending on the size of the event. Those events that can’t go ahead really require urgent support as they have lost a years’ worth of trading and won’t be back until spring 2021. Those that can be managed safely can immediately start to bring benefit to business and society”.

Photo Credit: Access All Areas

The festival and events industry covers both the events themselves and hundreds of support businesses and event suppliers, sustaining over 589,000 jobs. With many events and businesses set to close without further support, NOEA predicts that ‘tens of thousands’ of jobs will be lost. “This is a big industry with lots of SME companies and freelancers attached to every event. Because of this, we know that job losses could be in the tens of thousands,” continues Tom.

According to NOEA research, the average loss to event businesses is £539,431 with over half suffering liabilities of £100,000 or more. Some companies are already facing multi-million pound losses, while smaller businesses and individuals are looking at liabilities of tens of thousands of pounds.