BVEP Blog - Knocked for 6

Friday 11th September 2020: by Simon Hughes, BVEP Chair - I’m not going to take up too much of your time with this update as words are failing me at the end of a roller coaster week of ups and downs. Since the announcement that introduced the Rule of Six was made by the PM, chaos has ruled in our industry. I don’t think I have ever heard so much genuine anger and frustration before, from right across the event business. Organisers thwarted and closed down by intransigent local authorities despite everything they have done to risk assess and meet Covid-19 secure standards. Venues that have staffed back up to help market Q4 now find that they are dealing with more cancellation calls from concerned clients that have got the rule of six message loud and clear – and bailed. Many of those teams will now finally get some certainty in this uncertain world. They will be made redundant.

Latest numbers from the MIA indicate that 126,000 job losses to date are just the beginning. We can then get in line with all the other hard pressed sectors looking for support. Extending furlough? No chance. Across the industry the scale of support required to sustain us into 2021/2 is going to be huge – or won’t be, resulting in a radical re-structure and shrinkage of one of the industrial sectors that really has the ability to drive recovery and support so many other key businesses linked to the visitor economy.

I’m pretty sure that I recently heard someone commenting on a Select Committee report, pointing out that the shambles they had been asked to look at was evidence of the complete lack of business experience and commercial acumen that is endemic in the majority of our career politicians. This week was a good example of just that. That headline Rule of Six was launched like some malign missile, straight at everyone in the UK events industry. As usual the detailed guidance and review status of the long awaited re-opening date would follow. Thanks a bunch. It is clearly evident that there was no thought of how the main messaging would impact on the event industry.

There is also a staggering lack of clarity that results in Public Health England officials musing at pilot events how odd it is that an industry so obviously geared to deliver safe, secure and professionally managed events is being asked to prove its competence ahead of so many other sectors where standards are often variable at the best and shambolic at the worse. The ups and downs of the week. I’ll give you the ups next week. I’ve had enough now, like many, many others I’ve spoken to over the last few days. Knocked for six.