Earlier this week Save NSW Events, a collaboration formed to support the state’s events industry through Covid-19, released the results of a survey exploring the impact of the global pandemic on local industry people and businesses.

The survey collected responses from more than 620 industry professionals, with some key findings being that their income from April to December 2020 was down 82 per cent, 98.3 per cent of companies are currently receiving JobKeeper, and 87 per cent will be severely affected if the scheme ends in March.

Save NSW Events has now revealed the extended responses to its survey, which paint an increasingly bleak picture of the state’s business events industry. According to founder of Save NSW Events Paul Keating, the responses also highlight the need for extended government support.

“At the end of the day, one thing is clear from the results, if the government fails to extend support for the events industry, it faces an absolute catastrophe,” he said.

Paul said that the survey results have already reached the deputy prime minister and cabinet, treasury, senate select committee on COVID-19, the minister for tourism’s office, the tourism recovery taskforce, the arts recovery taskforce and Bill Shorten. He is imploring industry members to reach out to their local MPs through the Save NSW Events portal: https://savenswevents.good.do/savenswevents/save-nsw-events/

The extended responses to the survey were as follows:

What is likely to be the impact of JobKeeper ending at the end of March on your company?

  • I’ll have to close my business, as I will be unable to sustain a living to pay my mortgage, bills and look after my family as a single parent.
  • Still uncertain but likely to have to let staff go.
  • Having to find rent, loan repayments and insurance elsewhere somehow.

What forms of government assistance would most help your business?

  • Further support for the event industry as an industry identified as in crisis! We need more time for events to be planned, sold and bring confidence back to exhibitors [that] events won’t be cancelled on a whim. Nobody wants to end up out of pocket or quarantined in another state away from family if traveling for an event.
  • If JobKeeper was extended we could retain the skills we have worked hard to build up in each employee and continue to improve and upskill our employees in virtual events.
  • Cash! But at the end of the day this cannot go on forever. Need certainty provided to underwriters of events in the form of a guarantee. The current business events grant is a waste of time – it is supporting the wrong end of the food chain.
  • Continuation of JobKeeper or similar industry specific program at March 2020 rates, not current reduced rates until the recovery of our industry. Or, 100 per cent vaccination rate to ensure confidence for capacity audience sizes.

What is likely to be the impact of JobKeeper ending in March on you? (freelancers and contractors)

  • Already explored many other options all to lead to a dead end so my family will suffer from this.
  • Will be closing my company after seven successful years and finding another job.
  • Will not be able to pay my bills or feed my family or keep my work tools so I can start again.

What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your event industry work? (employees)

  • Possibility the company will collapse at the end of JobKeeper.
  • Had to declare insolvency of my event management business and lost my life savings.
  • Loss of hours, pay cut, lost my entire team.

What government support would best help you to be working in the event industry?

  • I’d like to see targeted support to businesses directly that have suffered the greatest losses and a likelihood of continued disruption of income. The Business Events Grant scheme does not work in supporting business confidence to run conferences – nothing will if borders continue to be closed for a small number of cases. JobKeeper would help but I think this system would need to be overhauled to be based on companies that will suffer a larger loss of income like +50 per cent. Our company experienced a loss of 95 per cent during the worst of it.
  • Funding to event companies to enable events to occur safely.
  • The vaccine to instil peoples’ confidence to hold live events. Digital events don’t cut it and there is fatigue. Business is done face-to-face.
  • Continued financial support. I was stood down for 11 months. Only having just returned to full-time work two weeks ago – and that is FOR NOW. Hours may be CUT AT ANY TIME, especially with JobKeeper ending.
  • The government must extend the JobKeeper past March 28. If they don’t the whole AV and event sector will be in ruins. Thousands and thousands of people out of work and defaulting on mortgages. How can I support a family of four on nothing?

Any additional comments

  • It has been a heartbreaking nine to 12 months. I have an overwhelming passion and love for events and to see this almost completely non-existent has been deflating. I am hopeful now the vaccine has rolled out and perhaps this may eliminate the two sqm rule so we can operate at higher capacities again.
  • I work in the hospitality industry which has been crippled by the pandemic. I have family of five and it has been challenging. If JobKeeper was extended, it would put less stress on family.
  • I believe we need a united national response, particularly in the area of border measures, to provide confidence to the industry. State-by-state rules that change on a weekly basis hinders the event industry from making a fresh start
  • We are hanging on by a thread. Events are just as hard hit as tourism, even more so in many cases, and will take longer to recover. The industry is losing generations of experience that will be very difficult to replace. Things are pretty grim.
  • The sport and event industries are driven by freelancers and contractors… the full-time office staff cannot deliver events without them. The government did not recognise us. The work we lost was not counted as ‘REAL’. It was demeaning and defeating.
  • The financial stress of everything expected to go back to normal when there is no income is the biggest thing I’ve ever had to face. I have no solution.
  • The government talks about the tourism and hospitality industries. The events industry has many tentacles – music, exhibitions, concerts, cultural events, performers, event equipment hiring businesses… they don’t understand how far the event industry reaches.
  • We are drowning in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as a direct result of the hard stop of our industry. If it’s not safe to run events, then the lives of people impacted should be cared for just like we care for those who catch COVID-19. We just want fair treatment.