A year on from the first lockdown, Leeds University Union (LUU) have announced a new campaign to support live events professionals and performers who have been affected by the cancellation of events.
The week-long campaign, which is in support of #WeMakeEvents, a group highlighting the issues of the beleaguered live events sector, will see societies, students and artists give exclusive performances and Q&A sessions to raise money for individuals in the sector facing hardship.
The Performing Arts Society, the Stage Musicals Society, the Hyde Park Brass Band and Bradford-based singer Premaura are among those supporting the LUU campaign. So far, the Performing Arts Society have shown their support with a reading of the poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth and the Irish Dance Society have released a video of its members performing in various outdoor locations across Leeds. These performances, as well as over 20 other videos, are available on the #WeMakeEvents Performance Playlist on Youtube.
In the last year, LUU has cancelled 260 events, including 28 shows, 48 concerts, 4 festivals and 31 Fruity Friday club nights.
The live events industry, which contributed £70 billion to the UK economy and supported more than 700,000 jobs in 2019, has essentially been shut for an entire year as the logistical challenge of planning socially distanced performances and concerts proved too difficult for most organisers.
The government has announced various support measures for the sector throughout the crisis – including the recent extension of the furlough scheme – but #WeMakeEvents says that the sector is still “on its knees”.
In a survey of over 2,800 individuals and businesses in the live event sector, #WeMakeEvents found that 93% of respondents had lost income due to the pandemic and, most worryingly, even with this cut in income, 34% have received no government at all – either through loans, furlough, or local or national grants. Those who have received support, meanwhile, reported that the amount provided was inadequate.
In a statement, LUU said: “As a students’ union, we deliver a variety of events from club nights and gigs to theatre shows and society events, and throughout the year we welcome hundreds of students and members of the public through our doors. Our venue’s doors have been closed for months on end meaning that societies, students, artists and industry workers have been left deeply affected by this.”
“We recognise that events are a huge part of people’s lives and houses several careers for technicians, performers, artists, promoters and hospitality staff. During this time 95% of live events have been cancelled due to Covid-19 which means artist’s tours have been postponed, societies events have been cancelled and industry workers have been left with no work.”
“As an organisation we stand with the official #WeMakeEvents campaign and have teamed up with societies, students and artists to deliver a week-long campaign that supports individuals who have been affected by the closure of events by raising money to alleviate financial strain and shed light on the devastating impact it’s had.”
LUU announced last month plans to resume live events from June 21, the earliest possible date the government has said all legal limits on social contact can be removed. The tickets to the first Fruity club nights since lockdown, which are planned on five consecutive nights on the week restrictions end, sold out immediately.
Image Credit: Leeds – Independent Life