In just a few short weeks, the COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly reshaped the professional event world.
As event professionals scramble to keep their businesses afloat and adapt to a new reality, there’s an urgent need to come together and empower the event community.
In the UK, we’ve seen the live music and concert industry led by live entertainment giant, Live Nation, launch ‘Crew Nation’ – a relief fund aimed giving financial aid and practical assistance to touring and venue crews who have been most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the USA, the makers of Wild Turkey and Campari America recently pledged US$1 million to @AnotherRoundAnotherRally to support the servers, the bartenders, the waitresses, and the local establishments that are now out of work thanks to Covid-19.
In the UAE, Art Jameel has moved quickly to come up a program of micro-grants for artists, etc, struggling to cope with #Covid19 disruptions to work and income. Artists, writers, curators and researchers based in the Middle East and North Africa can now apply for the Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform. The amounts on offer are modest, between US$1,000 and US$2000, but obviously these sums could be a lifesaver.
“We have been following and discussing the impact that the global health crisis might be having on artists and the creative community in general,” said Antonia Carver, Director, Art Jameel. “The team at Art Jameel has worked really hard to come up with a rapid-response scheme that contributes, even if on a micro level, to keeping artists afloat during these tough times.”
At governmental levels, the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi revealed steps the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development is taking to keep the sector alive in the UAE. In a recent article in The National newspaper, she revealed her ministry has been gathering information from industry figures to “understand who is being affected and how the government of the UAE can support the sustainability of the creative and cultural sector”.
The Ministers comments may reflect the biggest ray of hope yet for those in the creative and cultural sector. “The smaller businesses are definitely affected, and medium-sized ones will be … and this is where you can see the measures taken from a local government perspective, from rent to soon – VAT – and I hope also utilities.” Said Al Kaabi.
Meanwhile, in the absence of ‘angels’ looking out for the local event industry, it’s perhaps not surprising that much of the impetus to help has come from those within the industry itself. In the preceding weeks, the main event chat forum on Facebook, EINO Events & AV Industry Networking – Middle East, has been peppered with offers of help. These range from free online seminars to offers of food and supplies to those events people on the lowest rungs of the salary ladder but without whom, businesses would not operate.
However, more recently several members of the UAE event community came together to launch the online platform ‘We Stand Tall And Together’, (WSTAT) a more tangible and community based ‘rallying cry’ for the local event industry. The aim of the platform is bring the local event community together to hopefully answer the fundamental question, ‘what can the event and exhibition industry do to survive?’
The ‘We Stand Tall And Together’ website includes a heartfelt plea to both local event industry professionals and the UAE asking for help.
“The event and exhibition industry in UAE must stand tall and together in these difficult times.
We must stand together, both companies and individuals, to make sure we protect our industry, our colleagues, our employees and above all to maintain the quality and efficiency level we all worked hard to build, and we aim at keeping for the years to come.”
The initiative comes on the tail of a meeting last month (11 Mar) between International Live Events Association Middle East (ILEA) and Dubai Economic Department (DED). Both parties agreed that it was important for them to work closely together to minimize the pressures for our members, industry peers, and their businesses. No further updates have been announced but more details of the meeting can be found here.
Meanwhile DED has issued a survey in order to “evaluate and structure responses to ensure business continuity, develop resilience, maintain the safety and security of employees and assure we overcome the adverse economic impacts.” Industry professionals are encouraged to participate. Please click here to take the survey. (5-7 mins)
In the meantime, it may be that the event industry’s best hope of getting through the current crisis with as few casualties as possible, is to continue to look inward. The economic effects of Covid-19 will undoubtedly rumble on for months if not years and whilst long term crisis planning is essential, without practical remedies in the short term to help those most effected, many will not survive the journey.