We Are The Fair CEO Nick Morgan says the industry has a number of major hurdles to overcome before it is on the home stretch to recovery.
The unprecedented challenges faced by the UK events industry over the past 18 months have dealt a devastating blow to what was once a globally recognised music and culture scene.
While the Government has provided some support systems to the sector, many have fallen through the cracks, which continue to widen even as some events are able proceed once more.
The Cultural Recovery Fund has helped support some independent shows, however funding decisions were weighted towards promoters and missed swathes of the supply chain.
Various reasons have led to suppliers pivoting into more attractive sectors such as construction, with little incentive to return. Shortage of materials globally, such as steel and wood have driven up supplier pricing. Steel from China is reported to have a lead time of more than 26 weeks.
Due to less inventory within the supply chain, some suppliers have looked to profiteer and add anything between 10% and 40% uplift from their 2019 prices. After a year of lobbying on their behalf with many industry peers, it’s felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth. It’s very short-sighted and I believe once there is more confidence in the safe return of the sector more new suppliers will enter the market and prices could start to realign.
“After a year of lobbying on their behalf with many industry peers, it’s felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth.”
There is a huge security shortfall and there is a fierce bidding war, with other sectors offering £25 per hour. There are WhatsApp groups for nightclub door staff that also offer similar rates. Festivals cannot compete as they are needing such large deployments.
While ‘Freedom Day’ was met by many with open arms, the vagueness around Covid certification/status has become a challenge as there is a huge paradigm with different shows. Some show audience members are still concerned about Covid and therefore wish for more rigorous controls. Whereas some of our other shows virulently want to embrace freedom in its true form and are wanting to boycott shows or are being very vocal on social media suggesting we shouldn’t be checking status.
The fact it’s non-legislative means the communications to the audience became blurred and unclear. I am not endorsing enforcement, but clear messaging would give both the organiser and the attendees clear sight of what to expect at the show around certification or status.
It’s encouraging to see the Government are still considering some issues that we have been lobbying for. I welcome the news on insurance for the industry however, as with all things, the devil is in the detail. The industry lobbied hard to get the premium percentage of show costs reduced from 7%. At 5% it still offers a hefty cost especially given this would be a new line item. Many shows work to a 10%-15% margin so this could be reducing their margin by up to 100% and they have to sell out. Concerns also remain around exemptions if social distancing or reduced capacity is reintroduced the underwriting would be invalid.
Without doubt, the industry is getting a little stronger each week as more events are able to take place, but with continued uncertainty, lack of clarity from the Government and divisive customer opinions, there is some way to go yet before we are on firm ground.