Results from a recent survey into the state of the New South Wales event industry shows a grim picture of what lies ahead once JobKeeper ends next month.
In the space of one week, more than 620 event organisers and suppliers completed the survey, organised by the newly established Save NSW Events group.
Paul Keating, general manager at Audio Visual Events, who is heading up the group, said he was overwhelmed by the industry’s response.
“Our industry colleagues put so much thought, creativity, heart and honesty into their answers, it was truly overwhelming, and they should be proud of that,” he told Spice News.
The survey found income for event businesses in NSW from April to December 2020 was down 82 per cent, forecast income for January to June 2021 will be down 75 per cent and forecast income for July to December 2021 will be down 66 per cent. These forecasts are compared to the same period in pre-COVID years and excluding government support.
The results come in at a crucial time for the industry, with JobKeeper set to end in on 28 March 2021.
The survey found 98.3 per cent of companies are currently receiving JobKeeper, which has enabled companies to keep staff on the books.
Once JobKeeper ends, 45 per cent of respondents said they will need to let staff go and 42 per cent said they will potentially need to close their business.
Keating said the results have already been shared with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, the Minister for Tourism’s office, the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, Bill Shorten and more.
He said one thing is clear from the survey results, if the government fails to provide financial support post-JobKeeper, the events industry faces an “absolute catastrophe”.
The human impact
Save NSW Events has also compiled a selection of anecdotal responses, which paint a picture of the personal impact COVID-19 has had on event professionals across the state.
“Aside from the hard data, we need to share the story of the impact on people,” said Keating.
“I hope that by doing this it strengthens our industry’s position, it provides people with resolve for tough times ahead and it normalises the pressure and emotional toll people have borne.”
These are a selection of the responses:
I believe we need a united national response, particularly in the area of border measures, to provide confidence to the industry. State by state rules that change on a weekly basis hinders the event industry from making a fresh start
We are hanging on by a thread. Events are just as hard hit as tourism, even more so in many cases, and will take longer to recover. The industry is losing generations of experience that will be very difficult to replace. Things are pretty grim.
The financial stress of everything expected to go back to normal when there is no income is the biggest thing I’ve ever had to face. I have no solution.
We are drowning in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as a direct result of the hard stop of our industry. If it’s not safe to run events, then the lives of people impacted should be cared for just like we care for those who catch COVID-19. We just want fair treatment.
You can read the full survey results here.