The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt the global Events Industry a crippling blow and as the South African creative industries enter the fifth month of lockdown, the negative impact on this sector is reaching a tipping point.
South Africa boasts a well-established and competitively priced events infrastructure which makes a significant contribution to the economy. As a preferred event destination, the country’s events activity boosts tourism, promotes local business development and contributes directly to GDP, while exhibitions and business events support employment for a broad spectrum of event workers, assist with the development of prioritised business sectors and provide entrepreneurial growth opportunities.
The South African Events Council (SAEC) was formed to rally the production, venues and events industries and supports all sectors of the live events industry. It has led a proactive drive to generate and communicate a set of safety guidelines for events during the current restrictive climate and recently conducted a 5-city “Proof of Concept” event that demonstrated the readiness of the sector to resume business under these strict protocols. Now SAEC is calling for all involved to join the protest against the continued restrictions on conferences, exhibitions, music events and the like under the Light SA Red campaign.
Inspired by Germany’s Night of Light and the UK’s Light It In Red, South Africa’s Light SA Red campaign is the brainchild of local distributor, DWR. The 5th August will see buildings, landmarks and performance spaces across the country light up in signal red as Event Organisers, Technical Suppliers, Venues, Performers and Designers unite to highlight the emergency they face as an 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. #LightSAred aims to draw attention to one of the country’s hardest-hit sectors and one whose distress calls have been overlooked until now.
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,” says Projeni Pather, spokesperson for The SA Event Council, Exhibition Company Owner, and Chairperson of AAXO (African Association of Exhibitions). “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 their voices as one. For the first time, the entire event industry has come together, and together we are stronger!”
Sadly, many businesses and individuals have already succumbed and many more will close their doors if the Live Events industry is not given any indication of when events might reopen and cannot plan for their futures. Indeed, without the support this sector desperately needs to get to that point, there may no longer even be enough skilled labour and teams to bring these events to life when it does happen.
The #LightSAred campaign calls on all South Africans to join together and light buildings in red to raise awareness of their plight. Individuals, companies, and anyone concerned about the future of live events can participate by lighting a building, an empty stage, a garden or any object in red, then taking a photo and sharing it on their social media platforms while including the campaign hashtag, #LightSAred.