Eastbourne's Congress Theatre to turn red in support of COVID-stricken industry

The Congress Theatre Eastbourne will turn red tonight in solidarity with hundreds of other venues across the UK which have been devastated by the pandemic.

Robert Watson, technical director with Sussex Events LTD based near Hailsham, will be working with technicians from the Congress Theatre to deliver an important statement from 7.30-9.30pm on Wednesday, September 30 – as part of the nationwide #wemakeevents campaign.

Robert said the aim was to highlight “the forgotten industry.”

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“We are an events company and we provide support at events across the Sussex area and into London. We do some conference work, but the majority of our work is theatre work and festival work. We will cover about five or six medium-scale festivals a year, but our bread and butter are a lot of the amdram shows. We do Brighton panto, Eastbourne panto, Hastings panto.

“And we haven’t done anything since March pretty much. A friend of ours did a little festival in August, and that was literally the only job we have done.

“We have been going for eight and a half years, and so fortunately we have built up some reserves. But we are eating into those quite a bit. There is just nothing happening really.”

So he is delighted to be joining the #wemakeevents campaign which will also see demonstrations in Parliament Square.

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“It is just to raise awareness of what is going on. We have been forgotten. They announced last week that they would try to save us by paying a third of our wages but only if you have got a viable job, and at the moment we have not got a viable job because the government won’t allow us to open.”

What difference the campaign will make, Robert is unsure: “Lighting things red is just trying to get the message across and some awareness of social media pictures does help a little bit, but I don’t think we are able to change anything really. But it is a statement of solidarity between all of us.”

Robert is working on the basis that next year from April the company will get probably around a quarter of its normal work: “Stuff like conferences which are usually a big part of our winter are going online, and whether companies decide that that is the best way to do it going forward is the big issue.”

But there is a degree of hope: “We are respected across the county because we do the work and we always do it with a degree of light-heartedness, and somehow we have managed to keep that light-heartedness going. We will get through this, but it is going to be tough.”

Brighton is also playing its part tonight.

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In support of the #wemakeevents campaign, on Wednesday, September 30 from 6.30pm-8.30pm Brighton’s moving pier, the British Airways i360 Viewing Tower and venues along the seafront including the Brighton Centre, Palace Pier, Warren Outdoors and Concorde2 will change colour.

The Brighton activity is spearheaded by a core group of event professionals all of whom live locally and work on Brighton’s biggest events such as The Great Escape and Pride which alone contributes £20.5 million to the local economy with the city hosting 450,000 people over the weekend.”

The team comprises founder of Partridge Events Jacqui Partridge and Ian Silcock, Ian Baird founder of EPIC and Whiskey Bravo Productions and John Wallis from Reveries Events.

#WeMakeEvents is an international movement to highlight that the live events sector urgently needs support from local governments to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

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#WeMakeEvents is the champion for all the individuals working in the events industry, creating awareness and understanding of their concerns and issues. As part of this, #WeMakeEvents raises money to give immediate support for our industry charities who in turn will be able to help and support individuals in need.

How people can get involved:

1. Sign up to be involved on September 30 for the Global Activation from 8-11pm: www.wemakeevents.com more information will follow on how people can do this at home.

2. Join the Facebook pages ‘We Make Events Brighton Seafront 30th September’ and ‘We Make Events Campaign’ and invite peers. Share what you miss about not having events, share pictures of your favourite events and what they mean to you use #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert #Lightitinred on social posts.

3. Follow @WeMakeEventsOfficial on Instagram and Twitter.

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4. Venues and businesses, can download the #WeMakeEvents logo, print it out and place it in the business to highlight the cause.

5. Take a picture and post on personal social media channels using #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert #Lightitinred and on the Facebook page ‘We Make Events Campaign’

6. Facebookers can add the ‘We Make Events’ logo to their profile picture.

7. Make a donation or buy some We Make Events merchandise. 80% of profit goes to industry charities to support those suffering financial hardship. Go to: www.wemakeevents.com

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