Alexandra Palace’s Business Development Executive, Max Trench, takes a look at one of the initiatives raising awareness of the challenges faced by the events industry due to covid-19.

At the start of our covid-19 journey it was very hard for everyone to tell how long the situation was going to last and the magnitude of the impact on the events, arts and cultural industries.

Lockdown, and with it the job retention scheme, started at the end of March, with those of us who work in events hoping this would be short term, temporary measure. Of course, that hasn’t been the case and it did not take long before the reality sank in about the long term effect lockdown could have on our industry and the amazing people that work within it.

The events industry is not a small one in the UK, it generates over £70billion a year and employs more than a million people. The industry covers a wide range of offers and activities – gigs, theatre productions, trade exhibitions, fundraisers, corporate events, to name but a few. So make no mistake, the inability to host events over this extended period will have a much deeper effect on our cultural heritage as a nation and our global position as one of the world’s leading countries to host events.

It did not take long for the industry to come together in force and we started very quickly to make our voice heard. New ways of working, campaigns, lobbying of government – the movement started.

A campaign that caught a lot of traction was the #LightItInRed which saw venues around the UK light their buildings red in support of the industry.

Ally Pally was among those venues, sitting at the top of the hill with its transmission mast of 65 metres all light in red.

(Photo credit: Lloyd Winters)

These campaigns culminated into something quite special on Tuesday, 11 August. An event was organised by PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, calling on the government to ‘THROW US A LINE’ and give some additional support to the events and hospitality industry.

The idea was to have all attendees wearing red t-shirts, facemasks and geared with our phones and uplighters we light up the South Bank in red to raise awareness of everything the industry contributes and the threats it is now facing. This was an event ran by an incredible team that ensured all procedures were respected and that the gathering was done whilst adhering to all government guidelines on social distancing.

It was a very emotional sight as the sun over London started to set and the red lights turned on, all along South Bank and on the Bridges, awaiting a boat full of politicians and journalists that had been invited for the event. The helicopter flying overhead captured it the best, with the vantage point also including some of the Central London venues that had light their venue in red.

The events industry is a resilient one, filled with talented and innovative people, that contributes invaluably to our culture and economy. We are grateful to everyone who has or continues to support us. And we will not stop working so that we can keep entertaining people into the future.