As South Africa’s creative industries enter the fifth month of lockdown, the need for greater governmental support and engagement is urgent. Many companies have closed their doors or have gone into business rescue; many more will be forced to if nothing is done to support them while they are prohibited from working.

The South African Events Council (SAEC) was formed after lockdown brought the entire events sector to a halt. Its purpose is to support and advocate for all sub-sectors of the industry. It initiated the development of comprehensive safety guidelines for live events, and was responsible for the recent 5-city “Proof of Concept” hybrid event that demonstrated the readiness of the sector to resume business under these new protocols.

SAEC is also committed to highlighting the huge value that South African events offer. The country is a popular event destination, and events hosted here boost tourism, stimulate local business development, support jobs and contribute directly to the country’s GDP. Exhibitions and business events also provide a critical tool for innovation and economic growth in other industries.

Now SAEC is calling on all event industry stakeholders to get behind the #LightSAred campaign, which is happening tonight between 18:00-20:00 nationwide.

The concept is inspired by Germany’s Night of Light and the UK’s Light It In Red protests that were held earlier this year, and will see South Africa’s events industry and its supporters lighting up landmarks, performance spaces and buildings in emergency red. Images will be shared on social media, with the #LightSAred hashtag, in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the industry.

“While this is a positive and creative way of staging a protest and has had rapid and enthusiastic buy-in from events practitioners and supporters alike, the demands behind the campaign are very serious.”

A SAEC press release states: “While this is a positive and creative way of staging a protest and has had rapid and enthusiastic buy-in from events practitioners and supporters alike, the demands behind the campaign are very serious. #LightSAred aims to draw attention to one of the country’s hardest-hit sectors and one whose distress calls have been overlooked until now.”

It continues: “Many live events and production companies and freelancers have received absolutely no financial assistance since the initial blanket ban on events was instituted in March. #LightSAred is demanding monetary support from government and financial institutions for those affected until they can reclaim their livelihoods. Similarly, recognition and support are critical for the live events non-profit organisations that continue to strive to assist those in need.”

“SAEC believes that the events industry is a massive contributor to the South African economy and we are committed to the reopening of our industry as a priority. We once again invite our government to provide us with a platform on which to engage and be heard, before it is too late.”

Projeni Pather, spokesperson for SAEC, exhibition company owner, and Chairperson of AAXO (African Association of Exhibitions), says, “SAEC believes that the events industry is a massive contributor to the South African economy and we are committed to the reopening of our industry as a priority. We once again invite our government to provide us with a platform on which to engage and be heard, before it is too late.”

She continues, “This campaign highlights the industry at large and our current position of first out, last back to business during the pandemic. It is a time in which our industry needs to stand united and raise our voices as one. For the first time, the entire event industry has come together, and together we are stronger!”

To get involved in #LightSAred tonight, light up a space in red (it can be your home or garden), and share the images on social media using the #LightSAred hashtag. You can also re-share other images with the same hashtag.

Other messaging that you can include with your posts are:

  • We support events to drive economic growth #LightSARed
  • #Reopenevents to save our livelihoods #LightSARed
  • Events drive growth for all industries #LightSARed

You can also tag in the @SAEventsCouncil, as well as government and mainstream media:
@mmKubayiNgubane @PresidencyZA @Tourism_gov_za @the_dti @SportArtsCultur @eNCA @SABCNews @News24 @ewnupdates

You can also visit www.lightsared.org.za/ for more details.