Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/ AP
Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/ AP

Owners of event companies battling to survive as lockdown has killed business

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Jul 28, 2020

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Johannesburg - The South African events industry, on the brink of collapse because of the lockdown, has called for their voices to be heard.

In March, when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, one of the first industries to be badly hit was the event and exhibition industry, after mass gatherings were prohibited.

“All of the stakeholders that work in this industry are not generating income As a result, they’ve had to cut costs where they can and large numbers of people have been laid off or kept on furlough,” the executive director of the Southern African Communications Industries Association (Sacia), Kevan Jones, told The Star on Monday.

Sacia is one of the associations that form the SA Events Council, which recently launched the #LightSAred campaign, set to go live on August 5. The campaign aims to highlight the plight of the events industry.

“Whether you’re a business owner, an employed person or a freelancer, it’s an absolute disaster for you as an events industry person. There’s no revenue for event planners for weddings, no revenue for theatrical productions or music concerts. Not in anything,” said Jones.

One business owner who hasn’t landed a contract since March is professional DJ Clement Subramoney, who told The Star he had had to rely on family and sell personal protective equipment to put food on the table.

"I still have lights in my house, but it’s been hard I'm in debt now with my bond and some insurance," he said.

The chairperson of the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (Exsa), Gill Gibbs, said more than 10 000 events, including concerts, festivals, conventions and exhibitions, took place annually, and the sector contributed R26 billion to GDP.

“The exhibition and event industry has been in an artificial coma for five months, from March to date; it is one of the hardest-hit under the Disaster Management Act," she said.

Exsa is also a member of the SA Events Council.

The #LightSAred campaign will see individuals and companies lighting a building, an empty stage, a garden or any object in red, taking photos of the places and sharing them on their social media platforms on August 5.

Through the campaign, the council has called on the government to extend financial relief to those who work in technical production and the events industry; recognise and support non-profit organisations that are trying to sustain destitute members of the industry; and engage with elected leaders within Sacia and the SA Events Council, and provide a platform for their voices to be heard.

“Help us light the warning beacon and #LightSAred to remind the government and private industry just how much is at stake,” the campaign’s website said.

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