How event teams have made the pivot to survive during COVID times.
Events were one of the hardest hit industries as a result of COVID-19; the UK live music industry alone is on the brink of losing £900 million this year. The industry was one of the first to shut down and likely to be the last to be up and running again. Not sure about you, but we can’t wait for that day to come. From film festivals to concert tours and movie premiers, countless events have been cancelled or postponed over the last 8 months. The #WeMakeEvents campaign is making waves not only in the UK, but all over the world, in an effort to push for more funding to protect the event industry. There has been a considerable lack of government support and with no timeline set for the event world to open up, protestors are voicing their concerns as they try to survive this crisis.
We’ve exchanged festival glamping tents for couches and in person performances for streaming live concerts in sweatpants from the comfort of our own homes. We seem to have gone back in time as drive-ins are once again a great way to spend a Saturday night and we’ll likely be watching more and more concerts from our cars. Some of us were anticipating another Bruce Springsteen tour this year (excited after almost a four year hiatus) but it looks like that unfortunately won't be happening anytime soon.
However, even with the event industry suffering immensely, some production companies found use for their talents elsewhere. Event teams are incredibly resilient and have proven themselves immensely versatile by adapting their businesses during COVID times. Instead of building stages for massive festivals like Coachella or giant structures for Miley Cyrus, event industry teams around the world stepped up to serve their communities and help a world in need.
From stages to office furniture
L.A. Companies Choura Events and Gallagher Stages, known for their work building tents and stages at Coachella, redirected their efforts and built temporary testing facilities and triage centres. With beds, air ventilators, electricity and wifi all included, it was essentially a small town under one tent. Hospitals were incredibly overwhelmed at the beginning, which made these facilities all the more important.
Upstaging, who are recognised for their custom sets and trucking services for big stars like Bon Jovi, have been supplying and delivering all types of protective equipment from face shields to room dividers and signs.
Australian based company Stagekings, usually keeping busy with building large bespoke structures for major festivals or the Commonwealth games, took the opportunity to help with the millions of people working and learning from home. Their crafty skills came in hand and they created a new line of easy to assemble desks and office accessories for both adults and kids. Of course this boom in WFH has led to increased wine sales and luckily Stagekings also created a line of wine racks, which can also be easily assembled...even after a bottle of wine. 😊
From concert venues to triage centres
Sports arenas and concert venues were sitting idle, empty of their usual sports action, conferences and live performances. The Javits Centre in NY, the London O2, and Principality Stadium in Cardiff to name a few, have been filled in a different way and were transformed into makeshift treatment centres. Who better to provide lighting, beds, wifi and fully functioning kitchens than event production teams?
Other companies like GES and Visions Group, who are some of the leading event suppliers and specialists in the UK, also stepped up to the plate. GES took advantage of the empty ExCel London and turned it into a care facility for nearly 4,000 patients when hospitals were overrun, and the Reading School Grounds was transformed into a small village by Visions Group to accommodate frontline NHS workers.
From food to, well...food
Catering companies all over have been distributing food from cancelled events and providing healthy meals to those in need, from volunteers to rough-sleepers and key workers. The Red Radish crew has been keeping busy doing what they do best and making up thousands of meals to deliver. No food has gone to waste and many empty bellies have been fed.
Peachy Productions’ managing director Philip French assisted with the delivery of healthy meals to hardworking NHS staff. As a way to lift spirits, French and his team also decided to create a lights display on the city cathedral in Surrey, as a nod of thanks to everyone working the frontlines and as an act of solidarity.
The collective effort from these teams has definitely made a drastic impact on the world and is not going unnoticed. No matter how small the gesture, every little contribution has helped someone in one way or another. We know that events will be quite different in the foreseeable future, and it will be interesting to see how production teams will adjust to the new reinvented events world.
If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that event professionals deserve our recognition and support during these unprecedented times. Despite being out of work, despite the challenges they’re facing in their own lives, many people around the world have put their personal plights aside to help the greater good.