'We've Been Forgotten': Dancers, Promoters and Club Staff Protest the Decimation of Their Industry

Hundreds of staff from the events industry demonstrated outside Parliament yesterday, calling for more support from the government.
Dancers, Promoters and Club Staff Protest the Decimation of Their Industry

It’s not an easy time for the events industry. For a line of work that measures success in crowds, coronavirus has been merciless. From theatre to live music to club nights, the industry has come to a complete standstill, rendering thousands of people on furlough or out of work.

The government has been slow to protect these jobs. Although the billion-pound Cultural Recovery Fund package announced in July provides some support to gig and electronic music venues, little more has been done to stop the profession from collapsing. With the furlough scheme set to end on the 31st of October, the Chancellor’s replacement scheme – which covers 22 percent of workers’ wages – only applies to “viable” jobs. As a result, thousands of events industry workers whose workplaces remain closed will be left behind.


Events industry demonstrators gather in Parliament Square, central London. All photos: Chris Bethell.

Events industry protest London

The protesters call on the government for financial support for their industry.

Today, events industry workers gathered in Parliament Square, demanding help from the government and pleading not to be forgotten when the furlough scheme ends. Organised by #WeMakeEvents, socially distanced protesters posed silently in front of a mock gallows, while holding signs that read: “24/9/20 THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED”.

We spoke to some of the protesters about the support they want to see for Britain’s events industry.

Hayley, 33, dancer

“When the world is up and running, we give so much, but now that tourism isn't in action and no one is coming here, we've just been completely forgotten about. We can't get any help now from the government.”

“It's a really hard industry. We were already fighting for our wages to be higher. We don't have a union. We were already getting undercut. Dancers don’t have much money, [and] they're paying massive rents they can't afford.”

Events industry protest London

A protester holds a sign in Parliament Square.

“I would say people’s mental health [has been] affected. They're kind of at their wits’ end. A lot of our friends are not in a good place. I think it's hard for self-employed people. You feel guilty or you feel like you're underachieving if you're not working. We drive off of feeling like we're doing something. So to wake up and be like, ‘There is nothing we can do today’… I'm giving myself a hard time.”

Cerise, 27, front-of-house


“We can't work. Our venues can't open. We can't put on events. We've got no support from the government. People are still buying tickets. People are still holding onto shows that haven't been able to happen. We just need guidance and funding so we can get through this period.”

WeMakeEvents protest London

“It feels like we've been forgotten. We're having to cover work for colleagues who are on furlough, or who have been laid off. Our pays have been reduced. We're being asked to do so much more for not that much.”

“I feel hopeful because everyone in the industry hasn't given up. I don't think we'll ever give up because live music runs in our blood. It keeps us going. It makes us happy. We know how many lives events enrich, but we need the government to realise that as well.”

Charlie, 32, events and music promoter

“I put on up to 70 events every year in London, many of my friends do the same. Everyone has been dramatically affected by this. It's going to be a very sad outcome for the country and Europe if things don't change because music is escapism for everybody. If it's not here, what are people going to do? They're going to go and party illegally, there's going to be more crime, and it's not a very good place to be. It's going to cause more social problems and more division.

Events industry protest Parliament Square

“I’m optimistic that [clubbing] will come back, but I think it's a long time away. I think it's going to be 2022. It's not sustainable for anyone, for clubs or artists or for anyone to do events at a reduced capacity.”


Becky, 29, dancer

“At the start, I was loving [lockdown], then I feel like it's all got a bit real, and it suddenly dawned on me. This might not survive. Then you think, ‘What else can I do? I've been doing this my entire life.’ To be honest, it's affected my mental health. It's not been good but we're trying to all stick together. Even trying to source my own creativity has been difficult. You've just got to hope for the best.”

WeMakeEvents London protest Parliament Square

A protester stands next to a gallows placed in Parliament Square.

“In general, we all have to be positive. That's the way that we are. We're driven. There's no room for, ‘But what if it doesn't work out?’ But the energy I can sense is very, ‘Oh, shit’. A bit panic city. We're just trying to do what we can. I feel like I personally am trying to stick with positivity. You've got to do what you can to keep your head above water and not think the worst.”

Jayda, 22, merchandise manager


Jayda (right) holds a sign at the protest in London.

“We haven't really heard too much about what's gonna happen to our venue as a whole or our jobs. We haven't heard from any senior management since the start of lockdown and I'm just worried about my job and I'm worried about our industry.”

“Honestly, I don't see [the Eventim Apollo] opening for another year. At the moment you can only have six people inside your house and I work with a 5,000 capacity venue, and that's not including staff, so no, I don't see it happening for a very long time.”