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Production Services Association chairman and interim general manager Dave Keighley says that as the industry welcomes back full-capacity audiences it must work together to best meet ongoing challenges including crew shortages, the ‘pingdemic’ and Brexit fallout.

It’s been a couple of months since I took over the running of the PSA from Andy Lenthall and what a period it has been.

After 16 months of the live event industry being closed, at last, on the 19 July we were all allowed to get back to doing the things we love.

Excited PSA members and PSA council members finally had gigs to do. The new freedom was approached with some nerves and trepidation – everyone had lost their ‘match fitness’ and getting back up to speed was going to take some time.

 Getting used to the new ways of working also slowed things down and the new Covid-secure protocols will ensure that the time management of events will need to be thoroughly assessed. Crew and staff shortages are also becoming a problem. With so many freelance crew having found themselves new and more secure employment, I know that finding enough trained crew is a really big issue. It may be quite some time before companies can re-hire enough crew to get back to where they were in 2019.

 There is also the dilemma for event producers when it comes to planning an event or tour when the UK is such a confusing place right now with regards to testing, double vaccinations and the ‘pingdemic’. Advice and guidance change on an almost daily basis and I think this uncertainty will continue for the remainder of this year.

 Despite the problems and changes, the good news is that shows are now happening, festivals have returned – although more than 50% of festivals with a capacity of 5,000 or over have already been lost this year.

Getting back to working on events in the UK has its challenges because of the pandemic, but we also must face the issues around Brexit. Among them are the new rules regarding travel to and working in EU countries, and the serious issues with cabotage for trucks.

 The PSA is working with many other associations to try and find solutions to the problems we face. The PSA is a founder member of the umbrella association LIVE and with our partners within that organisation we are working daily to talk with government departments here in the UK and within the EU.

We have a long and difficult road to get anywhere near being back to pre-pandemic and pre- Brexit conditions, but we will continue our work and I am confident we will succeed.