Coronavirus: Events industry body warns of imminent closures

Wave of permanent closures likely without urgent supports, says Event Industry Ireland

Only 4 per cent of events businesses believe they can ensure distancing guidelines are followed for events of 5,000 attendees and above. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Only 4 per cent of events businesses believe they can ensure distancing guidelines are followed for events of 5,000 attendees and above. Photograph: Dave Meehan

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More than half of businesses in the Irish events industry say they may not survive 2020 due to the extended disruptions posed by coronavirus.

A new industry representative body, Event Industry Ireland, has called on the Government to support businesses affected by the pandemic amid fears the sector will soon be hit by a wave of permanent closures.

A survey of 343 events companies found that 57 per cent have temporarily let staff go and 8 per cent have made permanent lay-offs.

A fifth say they can stay in business for only another one to three months based on their current revenues, while a further 35 per cent say they can last four to six months at best.

More than a quarter believe it will take up to 18 months to return to pre-pandemic levels of business, while almost all companies have experienced a significant drop in revenue, according to the new body. The industry is responsible for the employment of 35,000 people in Ireland and generates more than €3.5 billion for the economy annually, it said.

Event Industry Ireland is now urging the Government for help to safeguard the survival of businesses across the sector ahead of what is usually the busiest time of year for the industry. It is seeking a further extension of the wage subsidy scheme for the sector, a reduced VAT rate, tax incentives, assistance on insurance issues and support for virus-testing at the point-of-entry to festivals, concerts and sporting events.

Doubtful future

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown what was a thriving sector in Ireland’s future into doubt, with many businesses now struggling with revenue and their cash flow unlikely to return to normal levels for some time,” said founding committee member Ronan Traynor, who is managing director of events marketing agency Verve.

“Culture, the arts and festivals are integral to the Irish public, and we call on the Government to support the industry to ensure its survival throughout these very challenging times.”

Some 44 per cent of events businesses have reported that 80 per cent of their annual revenue streams have already cancelled their business for 2020, with only a fifth of that business rescheduled to 2021.

Some 27 per cent say they can run less than 10 per cent of their business while the current social-distancing guidelines are in place.

More than a third also believe they could only ensure social distancing at indoor events of fewer than 100 people, and 29 per cent say they could manage social distancing at outdoor events for 300-1,000 people. But only 4 per cent believe they can ensure Government guidelines are followed for events of 5,000 attendees and above.

Events companies will be among the last to recover from the effects of the pandemic, Mr Traynor said.

“Event Industry Ireland represents businesses that operate across conferences, music events, trade shows, sporting, cultural events and festivals, which are of huge importance to the economy. We are concerned for the future of our trade and welcome support to ensure the sector can get back to work as soon as possible.”

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