“We have customers; we just need clarity, council-confidence and more crew…”
“A week on from the PM’s announcement month’s delay in moving to Stage 4 of the Government’s Roadmap, the impact on the Guild’s 2,500 operating members continues to be mixed, in common with others in the leisure industry.
Up to and including this weekend (26th-27th June) 468 fairs will have taken place since 12th April; enabled under stages 2 and 3 of the Roadmap, with a further 112 planned across the summer and beyond, which is expected to increase. This is still low against the 10,000 fairs that annually take place in a non-covid year.
A game of two halves,with smaller fairs winning, as larger fairs’ bids go into extra-time:
Business at fairs open has been holding up, even with the Euros 2020 football; which is just as well, with England and Wales both going through to the last16 teams;though it is expected that the further matches will lure custom away from the fairs temporarily in these countries, but much less so in Scotland.
Soccer aside, we are still waiting for clarity from both national government and as a result, local councils, on the possibility of the larger fairs taking place; including the important autumn Charter Fairs, such as Oxford St Giles; Bridgwater St Matthews; Nottingham Goose Fair; Stratford and also Hull Fair.
There remains uncertainty over the operation of Carnivals, Air shows, corporate events and theand other major landmark events across the UK that fairs support; with the smaller of the organisers erring on the side of postponement at best and cancellation at worst, as the lack of clarity of the government policy nationally and locally persists throughout the summer.
The hesitation among local authorities nationwide continues in some areas, with some more positivity in the northeast and in Wales, with success in Caerphilly and Newport; but as with England, the decisions on the historic fairs have been put back to mid-July at the earliest.
In Scotland, a limited number of fairs are opening, with Burntisland in Fife currently in the balance; but in Northern Ireland it is slower.
The plight of Festivals headlines the issues we all face:
Meanwhile the fairs at the large and smaller music festivals are also still in the balance, as their organisers battle it out with the government on their Covid-cancelation insurance issue.
The Fairground industry is supportive of our Festival colleagues, being part of their supply chain, as trading partners.
Last weekend, Lancashire Showman, Jan De Koning, presented a fair at the important Download Pilot Festival event; which was widely acclaimed as a model in covid-mitigation compliance across the 10,000 visitors at the 3-day camping and live music event, with no social distancing or masks; but pre-testing proof required for everyone and a rigorous testing programme & working arrangements for all staff throughout the show.
Fairs at Latitude, WOMAD; Leeds& Reading and the Isle of Wight amongst others stand to gain from this ERP experience at Donnington Racecourse, in unlocking the rollout of those festivals.
The larger Charter and Streetfairs later in the season across the UK stand to benefit from this too…
Events Research Programme findings illuminating -& now with legal action to force publication:
The live music and theatre industries have today, 24 June, launched legal action against the Government to force the publication of the Events Research Programme (ERP) data.
Among those leading the legal action are live music industry body LIVE and a range of theatre businesses, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, Cameron Mackintosh, Michael Harrison and Sonia Friedman.
The legal proceedings against the Government have been taken with the intention of forcing it to hand over the report of Phase 1 of the Events Research Programme (ERP).
The music industry and theatre businesses have repeatedly called on the Government to outline the scientific basis for its decision to maintain restrictions on events.
The live entertainment sector has spent the last few months participating in, and paying for, full capacity pilot events as part of the ERP – including The BRIT Awards at The O2 arena, an outdoor festival event in Liverpool for 5,000 people, a snooker tournament at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and the Download festival for 10,000 people last weekend (with Showmen presenting a fair as part of it, as mentioned above).
These events have been a huge success, according to the Government itself in various press reports, showing that with proper precautions in place, live events at full capacity can go ahead safely.
But the Government chose to keep the live entertainment industry under severe restrictions from 21 June, while allowing parts of the economy that have not been subject to similar scientific studies, including hospitality, public transport and retail, to operate.
The Government has also refused to publish the results from the first phase of the Events Research Programme, despite saying that it would do so on numerous occasions.
The legal action follows a leak from Politico online policy news on 23rd June:
A leaked internal economic impact assessment produced by the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) suggests the events industry will incur huge losses even if minimal Covid-19 restrictions remain in place beyond 19 July. The government’s internal data (seen by Politico London / Playbook,on Wednesday 24th June) also reveals the impact of Step 3 of the prime minister’s roadmap — which we are currently in. It found that the events industry as a whole is managing just 60 percent of its 2019 turnover under the current restrictions.
The Events Research Programme tried to find out why non-pharmaceutical measures, even relatively small ones like face masks, would have such a massive impact. They surveyed 3,810 adults, finding that all these interventions significantly decreased demand, with the exception of COVID testing, which actually boosts demand. Mandatory COVID testing meant people were 15 percent more likely to attend an event. But face masks meant people were 28 percent less likely to go. A ban on food or drink meant people were 43 percent less likely to attend.
The ERP pilots didn’t result in a significant spike in Covid transmission but according to Playbook the modelling found that maintaining any Covid restrictions would cost the economy billions of pounds and see many businesses close.
As we await the eventual official unveiling of these results, the Showmen’s Guild supports all national and local efforts to have as many of the UK population as possible vaccinated; seeing this as the ultimate exit route to the current drawn-out disruption that we are all experiencing.
Building the teams of crew at fairs, to deliver the results:
Separately, the issue that is facing the Showmen, in common with others in the Leisure Industry, is the shortage of available staff, when the fairs can go ahead; which includes drivers.
This is exacerbated by the post-Brexit legacy of the EU Settlement Scheme deadline, looming next week. The Settled Status Scheme gives longstanding European residents, who successfully apply, indefinite leave to stay and work in the UK after Brexit.
This scheme is to protect nationals from the EU already here,including their benefits here in the UK long-term.
However,many affected, have not applied, even though the deadline is not being extended beyond 30th June; it is feared that this will reduce the available experienced workforce further.
Overall, the Guild continues to work with the wider Events & Leisure Industry; National & Local Government and the public, to keep its members on the road and in business in all settings across the UK