A Dundee sound engineer has warned live events like gigs and theatre shows may not return to normal even after the coronavirus pandemic is over, unless the industry receives government support.
Paul Smith, director of Apex Acoustics on Coldside Road, said the industry is now at “crisis point”, with no prospect of mass gatherings being permitted any time soon.
He said that while events businesses accepted the situation, he called for politicians to either provide emergency cash to keep companies afloat, or extend the furlough scheme.
Yesterday Paul, an industry veteran with nearly 30 years of experience, will be joining other members of the live events business at a socially-distanced protest on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.
Protest organisers say their companies, which help generate billions for the economy every year, is taking a bigger hit than some other industries as concert and theatre venues stay shut.
Unless something is done soon, there may not be enough companies like his left to provide sound and lighting for events when restrictions are finally lifted, he said.
Apex Acoustics provides sound equipment for events across the UK. Until the coronavirus pandemic hit, Paul said the firm was on track to have its busiest year in over 20 years of existence.
“My last job was a couple of theatre shows prior to lockdown,” said Paul, from the West End.
“And I had one job for a live stream that earned a few hundred pounds. Normally in the five months since lockdown the business would have brought in around £250,000 – but this was on track to be our busiest year yet.”
“We were actually the first industry to close down after the government said not to go to large gatherings in March.
“The earliest we are reasonably looking at getting back to business is March or April of next year.
“Bigger companies are starting to lay off staff now.
“This is mostly a gig economy, with people freelancing and going in between jobs. I know that plenty of people are changing careers, and they may never come back.”
As well as the protest, buildings across the country, including Paul’s warehouse, were being lit up red in an effort to shine a light on the struggling trade.
“We’re trying to get support for them, as well as an extension for the furlough in our industry.” the 47-year-old said.
“It’s been tough and there’s no end in sight.
“Everything’s coming back and we’re not, restaurants, schools, shops pubs, they’re all back.
“We’re not demanding to come back, we’re looking at ways we can get money to freelancers and others who need it.
“One option for that is an extension of furlough.”
According to Paul, a lack of government action could lead to further, irreparable damage for the industry.
“This goes right down the supply chain to other industries like manufacturing, security and catering.
“A lot of people are taking out loans, but because they’re not working they can’t pay them back. I’m down to my savings.
“If people want things like live events, Commonwealth Games, concerts and gigs then we need support through this.”