At Wednesday’s hearing of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Support for the Tourism and Events Sectors, we heard Norwest CEO Matt Jones talk with great pride about his audio crew who are in hotel quarantine in Tokyo. They are there to do the audio for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics – just as they have done for nearly every Olympic Games since Sydney.
As Matt clearly stated the production crews in Victoria – the lighting, audio, video, rigging, etc. really are amongst the very best in the world. We should be really proud of this.
As someone who has been producing events for three decades, I know how blessed we are to have so many incredibly talented and dedicated crew and suppliers who have helped us deliver great events time and time again no matter what the challenges are.
But the reality in Victoria is that we have now lost over three quarters of these people, and quite a few businesses are still at serious risk.
Even with only 10% of events back happening again, we are already seeing some skills shortages.
This is why it was so heartbreaking to see no real support for these people and businesses in Victoria’s budget this week.
MCB’s business event grants are helpful. And will certainly help some events happen. Although only about 5% of business events fit the criteria. But they are based on the idea that the dollars will eventually trickle down – which for multi-day national conferences will be many, many months away. And, most other types of events received no support at all.
The total amount in the budget for MCB and their Business Event Program for the next year is $10.2 million. The total amount for Puffing Billy for the same period is $11.2 million.
Puffing Billy is worth more to the government than the $12 billion business event sector.
There are many event industry businesses at risk now – which is why Save Victorian Events has been campaigning for direct financial support for the most at risk businesses – and especially suppliers – to help them get through the next six months until there are more events happening. But also, so many event businesses can afford to keep or put staff on so they will have the capacity needed to be able to deal with events picking up again.
We also continue pushing for government backed COVID cancelation insurance to get many more events of all kinds happening again, but also to enable event organisers to commit in advance to their events and their suppliers.
We absolutely need to talk up events at every possible opportunity – as we do want events to happen.
However, we also need to speak up very loudly for the crew and suppliers who make our events happen. Who make us as event organisers and our clients look great. Because without these people and business we don’t have events. Without the really great people and businesses we have been so lucky to have, we can’t have great events. They do really need support. They need our active support.
The governments don’t realise that for every person you see on stage that there are another 50 to 100 people working behind the scenes to make the event happen. I don’t want to imagine an event industry without them.