Since public gatherings were prohibited in mid-March, the technical production and live events industry has ground to a complete standstill. For many businesses this means 100% loss of income for the past five months – and likely for the rest of the year, based on current predictions.

While the South African government pledged R500 billion towards relief funding and other strategies to survive the pandemic and the lockdown it has necessitated, the live events industry says it has not received the support it so desperately needs. The situation is clearly unsustainable. Without an urgent intervention, it will cease to exist and thousands more jobs will be lost.

“Companies are simply going into liquidation and business rescue as we speak.”

Duncan Riley of DWR Distribution says, “Our industry has received zero funding to date from government. We are prohibited from doing our jobs, and we understand the reasons behind the decision, but then the government should provide some form of compensation going forward. Companies are simply going into liquidation and business rescue as we speak. This affects families that rely on income that has just been taken away.”

[If you own a business within the South African events industry, please complete this survey to help the #LightSAred campaign gather reliable statistics which can be used to advocate for greater support of the industry.]

 

Sending a distress signal to parliament

The seriousness of the situation led Riley to approach Sharif Baker, Chair of the Technical Production Services Association (TPSA), with an idea. Since their first conversation, the #LightSAred campaign evolved and grew. While it is being driven by TPSA and is endorsed by the South African Events Council (SAEC) which represents 12 event industry associations, #LightSAred has been embraced by all sub-sectors within the events industry to protest their collective current predicament – many of who believe the industry will not survive the next 100 days if nothing is done to save it.

#LightSAred has been embraced by all sub-sectors within the events industry to protest their collective current predicament – many of who believe the industry will not survive the next 100 days if nothing is done to save it.

Baker says, “It is imperative we have a united front and resolve in our goal. As South Africans we must carry the spirit of ubuntu in our hearts and minds, so that we can get back to work together and do what we do best.”

On 05 August 2020, the industry will light up buildings, monuments, landmarks, empty theatres and spaces across South Africa in “emergency red”. The public is encouraged to get behind the cause and join in lighting-up buildings or even objects, and to share and re-share photos of these symbolic distress signals on social media using the hashtag #LightSAred.

 

 

The concept is based on #NightofLight2020 that the live events industry in Europe organised, when they were facing a similar plight. It resulted in over 9 000 buildings, monuments, cultural sites and other objects being lit up in red by over 8 300 participating companies on 22 June 2020 – including the Olympic Tower in Munich, pictured above. The campaign gained the attention it sought. In many cases it resulted in discussions with government, which had been one of its primary objectives.

 

What is needed to help save the SA events industry

The South African events industry has similar ambitions for #LightSAred, and is hoping to achieve the following:

  • Government and financial institutions to extend financial relief to those who are normally able to earn a living in this sector, until they are allowed to resume work;
  • Government to start engaging with the industry’s representatives, through professional organisations such as SAEC and the Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA – which TPSA is a special interest group within);
  • Government to recognise and support the non-profit organisations that are providing a safety net for the many professionals who now find themselves destitute.

Whether #LightSAred is successful or not, depends largely on the support it gains – which is why your involvement could make all the difference.

To find out more about #LightSAred, including how you can get involved, go to www.lightsared.org.za.

 

You can also watch a recording of the launch event here: