The constant media references to Churchill when the PM makes a speech or addresses the nation in this moment of national crisis are wearing very thin with me, particularly as I’ve been ploughing through Churchill’s ‘The Second World War’, which I quoted from in the last update. There is simply no comparison between these two leaders once you learn how the former used expert advice, dealt with the detail, delegated effectively and built a Cabinet around him based on trust, strength, unity and talent. I realise these updates are reading more and more like the manic thoughts of deranged blogger, but I’m trying to keep it real despite everything that’s going on, so please either bear with me or just stop reading now.
For those of you that are staying with it, thanks – it’s good to share. Churchill described August 1942 as a “Trying Interlude”. Following an unbroken catalogue of misfortunes the Allies were about to launch two huge operations at either end of the Mediterranean. This led to a period of waiting during which “the inner circle who knew were anxious about what would happen. All those who did not know were disquieted that nothing was happening.” That perfectly captures the current situation. There has been a tremendous amount of unseen work, meetings and discussions, all with the sole aim of securing some form of help and assistance for the UK event industry. Every channel that can be used to get our case across is being used.
Yet if you are not directly involved in any of this you’ll be wondering what on earth is going on. As every day brings worse news on both the economic and health fronts, what is practically being done to support us? Well, we are being asked for more data. Once again many of our partners responded with alacrity to help answer yet another set of questions from DCMS designed to provide an accurate overview of the state of the industry and an indication of what level of support might be required – if in fact such support might actually become available.
I am very aware that we have all been bombarded with surveys and requests for information, but it remains essential to put our case as cogently and consistently as we can. There is a school of opinion that suggests that we should stop being so helpful for all the good that it is doing us; some will venture even further and suggest that we are about as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to getting our voice heard. It almost feels like we need to create some kind of campaign to focus everyone in the UK event industry, so that all approaches and viewpoints align and work together, rather than confuse and contradict. Which is where One Industry One Voice came from – so job done?
Of course not – it has only just started. First off the response to the launch of One Industry One Voice was widely and warmly welcomed, creating a positive sense of unity across the industry. Now we have to build on that, so getting the foundations right will be really critical. The second thing about aligning campaigns that are at different stages of development is that it should give us flexibility; we need to plan for short term, medium and long term activation. As November approaches and furlough ends the numbers of people needing support will increase. Those that have had no access to support and no income since March are front and centre in our minds. We all need to find some kind of certainty in these uncertain times.
Apart from the detailed impact information and forecasts of what lack of economic support would look like, the key messages being delivered directly to the Secretary of State at DCMS this week were:
- HMG is allowing a world class industry in the UK to collapse before our eyes – current loss of £25bn and over 150,000 jobs. By February 2021 estimates for both business and leisure events sector job losses without any further support could easily exceed 500,000.
- There is no level playing field with sectors that have been allowed to operate under new Covid-19 secure guidance. This causes real confusion as shopping malls, indoor markets, cinemas, cultural exhibitions and some guided tour activity are all permitted. The control and mitigation measures in place at our leading venues, conference centres and exhibition spaces frequently exceed the agreed guidance in both scope and detail.
- There must be a rescue plan for the business visits and events sector and that has to be linked in advance to the circumstances that would permit reopening. We need to be involved in dialogue around the scientific and medical conditions required for reopening and address the issues around the perception of normative behaviour pertaining to conferences and business event activity.
- Finally we must learn from this and build back better, playing our role as a key engine of economic growth and supporting the “moon shot” ambition in terms of providing controlled test and tracing opportunities through selected events and venues. We are here to help – this is not just about hand outs.
At the same time as this the EIF have also been polling their extensive membership in the outdoor sector and providing briefings to HMT officials and a formal paper identifying the level of financial support required to sustain a sector that has already lost one season and is now considering what is going to be feasible in 2121. The BVEP will continue to work closely with them and all of our partners to ensure that we get some certainty about the future as soon as possible. With luck we will have more news to share at the next BVEP Partners meeting, which takes place on the 21st October.
EVCOM are an active member of the BVEP, campaigning for the recognition of the events industry in Government and in the public eye.