The results of a survey exploring the impact of Covid-19 on Victoria’s +$10 billion event industry have been released, revealing the devastating loss of income for events businesses and the overwhelming reliance on the government’s JobKeeper scheme.

The survey, which involved more than 360 businesses and more than 200 individuals from Victoria’s events industry, was organised by Save Victorian Events – the campaign launched by director of Event Pty Ltd Simon Thewlis to encourage Victorians to email Victoria’s minister for major events and minister for creative industries to ask for more support.

Survey respondents included suppliers working in audio visual; lighting; theming; expos; marquees; catering; and more.

The survey’s findings were thus:

Income from April to December 2020 was down 85 per cent

Forecast income for January to June 2021 is down 76 per cent

Forecast income for July to December 2021 is down 67 per cent

94 per cent of companies are currently receiving JobKeeper

Receiving JobKeeper has enabled:

38 per cent of companies to keep all staff on

47 per cent of companies to keep some staff on

If JobKeeper ends in March:

43 per cent of companies will need to let staff go

An additional 40 per cent of companies will potentially need to close their business

83 per cent of companies in Victoria’s event industry will be severely affected by the ending of JobKeeper if it is not replaced by some other form of financial support

Impact on freelancers and contractors

Professional service providers who play a critical role in the planning and running of events were also surveyed. These include producers; production managers; stage managers; technicians; risk managers; and lighting designers.

Their survey results found that:

Income from April to December 2020 was down 89 per cent

Forecast income for January to June 2021 is down 80 per cent

Forecast income for July to December 2021 is down 67 per cent

77 have had to seek work outside of the event industry to survive

69 per cent will need to get jobs outside of the event industry if JobKeeper ends in March

Impact on Victorian event industry workers

Only 27 per cent of people who were working full time in Victoria’s event industry pre-Covid are still working full time in the event industry

35 per cent of people who were working in Victoria’s event industry pre-Covid are no longer working in the event industry at all

Steps needed for recovery

In light of these survey findings, Simon Thewlis has listed what he believes is needed in order to steer Victoria’s business events industry back in the right direction. His steps are as follows:

Financial support for businesses

Simon says the industry needs direct financial support, similar to the grants of up to $10,000 that Tasmania has given to event industry businesses – enabling them to survive and be able to gear up again for when activity resumes.

Extension or replacement of JobKeeper

Simon has joined politicians such as Anthony Albanese and prominent industry members to call for an extension to the government’s JobKeeper scheme beyond March 2021. Alternatively, he says, another form of funding is needed to keep a large portion of people working in the events industry employed until activity resumes later on this year.

Certainty around borders

“A huge portion of events are reliant on people being able to travel interstate,” Simon said.

“So there needs to be much greater certainty about when borders may need to close and how this process is managed.”

Proper guidelines and simpler approvals

Simon says the Victorian government needs to release ‘restart guidelines’ for the business events sector so that business events can happen again. Included in this should be a timeline for getting to Public Event Phase 3.

Active support for events

Governments need to work proactively with the event industry to encourage, and make it easier for, events to happen again, Simon says. He recommends a marketing campaign aimed at the business community both in Victoria and around Australia to say that Victoria is open for events again.

Simon concluded: “Today’s survey results show that unless there is swift action, Victoria’s Event Industry is facing a catastrophe. And potentially, the loss of a whole generation of great talent – which cannot be replaced.”

For further information about the Save Victorian Events campaign, visit: https://savevictorianevents.good.do/extendjobkeeper/please/