Dormant, billion dollar white elephant venues, thousands out of work or on Jobkeeper, and hundreds of events being cancelled every week, possibly never to return – The Events Industry is on its knees and leaders in the industry are calling for the government to at least give them a restart date.
Gary Fitz-Roy, MD of Expertise Events, a large family-owned events business that runs Oz Comic-Con, Craft Shows, Wine shows and many others said about the situation, “We’re not asking for hand-outs or incentives, we just need a restart date to work towards. Unlike other industries, we need time to restart and right now, we have no clear direction from the government. The events industry could give the economy an instant kickstart, with cash flowing throughout all aspects of the industry and associated industries.
“Globally, we’re seeing other countries re-opening their events industries, despite having higher rates of COVID infection, for example, Greece. And all we’re asking for is a start date to aim towards. It’s the middle of June, we’re not saying we want to start now, just to give us a date in the future, ideally August/September, so that we can organise ourselves to restart and give our events and livelihoods a chance of survival.”
The events industry has been absolutely devastated by COVID-19, affecting hundreds of thousands of people’s jobs. The events industry directly employs 229,000 people across Australia and pays $11.1 billion in wages, with a direct industry contribution in 2019 of $35.7 billion.
And it is not just people directly involved in the events industry, it is the associated industries as well – the signwriters, the caterers, the security sector and the venues. The ICC in Sydney, MCEC in Melbourne, BCEC in Brisbane to name just a few of the major venues will become billion dollar warehouses if they have little or no industry remaining to hire and fill them.
Major events have already been cancelled this year because of the lack of clear direction about a restart date from government, alongside the challenges of no international travel, including Splendour in the Grass, the Good Food & Wine Shows, the International Boat Show and Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney. For smaller events that have been cancelled, the loss of income may mean they will never return. And what does this mean for our economy as well as our cultural landscape?
Mr Fitz-Roy continues, “We urge the government to lock in a start date so we can aim towards something. People within the industry are feeling extremely lost and disheartened at the moment, some clarity around a restart would give people hope.
“We’re in a position, that unlike shopping centres or uncontrolled protests, we can control every aspect of our events: with physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene counter measures, temperature screening, the ability to contact trace and very clear communication. We can reassure the government and the general public that the events that they will attend will be controlled and safe.”