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Posted 30th Sep, 2020

When faced with a global pandemic in March this year, several trade bodies and companies in the live entertainment and business events sector found themselves navigating their way in an industry that has been completely disrupted to an unprecedented level. The UK is internationally recognised for delivering impressive cultural events, which contribute £100 billion to the economy every year.

In August, both industry professionals and the public across the UK virtually came together in solidarity for #WeMakeEvents. A series of creative initiatives including ‘Light It Red’, where organisations participated in lighting their venues red to symbolise the industry going into ‘red alert’. The red alert announcement follows the Government’s £1.57bn arts rescue package, which overlooks the entire industry supply chain, from manufacturing and distribution to lighting design, audio engineering, video programming, stage rigging and much more.

Peter Heath, MD of PLASA, comments:

“The live events industry supply chain that contributes to every single event in the UK is set to completely collapse. Social distancing prohibits mass events, and even if this stopped now, long- term planning for events won’t enable a return until around March 2021. Now the whole industry is coming together to initiate a Red Alert. We have been campaigning for financial support from the Government using #WeMakeEvents because the sector is on its last legs.”

James Gordon, CEO of Audiotonix, the UK’s largest Pro Audio manufacturer and a key supplier to the events industry, adds:

“As the first industry to stop working back in early March, we will also be the last to get our businesses working again, with ongoing social distancing making it impossible to open up live event venues to allow capacities that are commercially viable for all. Without an ongoing sector specific furlough scheme which other European countries have introduced, and other financial measures that will help our freelance workers who make up 72% of this sectors workforce, we cannot secure the long-term future of the UK’s leading, internationally respected and commercially contributing events industry.”

Our iconic Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall venues welcome over 350,000 patrons through the doors every year to enjoy a wide variety of world-class entertainment. The entertainment and live events industry are in a perilous position as social distancing measures remain in place. Our team has worked extremely hard to reschedule over 80% of gigs due to take place in the Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall this year to 2021 and beyond. Small glimmers of hope shine through now that the Waterfront Hall’s Main Auditorium is alive once again with the sound of the Ulster Orchestra as they rehearse in a safe and socially distanced setting.

ICC Belfast welcomes thousands of delegates to national and international events each year and has delivered over £100m economic impact since 2016 for the city of Belfast and Northern Ireland. Our team strive to deliver world class event experiences like no other and not just another conference, through their relentless pursuit of excellence and expertise. The venues ‘one team’ approach meet and exceed client expectations by guiding conference organisers on all elements from the proposed spaces and event production to hospitality, citywide branding and digital marketing.

Our industry was one of the first to close and will be one of the last to reopen - we cannot let its importance be understated.

We have been campaigning at the highest level for support in our industry. Julia Corkey, CEO of ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall has been actively involved in the hospitality response group since joining the organisation in July. Since March 2020, the senior management team have joined various groups to contribute to the recovery of live events and the business tourism industry.

ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall are committed to bringing the best in live entertainments to Belfast and hosting world class conferencing experiences like no other. While the venues are temporarily on pause, we are determined to build back better than ever. 

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