PRESS RELEASE: 29th September 2020
ExcludedUK joins forces with other key organisations for a day of action tomorrow, 30th September to highlight continued need for COVID-19 support
People excluded from government Covid-19 support will join pantomime dames and creative workers for a day of action to include a socially distanced march through London on 30 September, organised by ExcludedUK, Bectu, Equity and #WeMakeEvents.
ExcludedUK will march through London, highlighting the 3 million individuals and businesses excluded from meaningful support during the pandemic, whilst a Panto Parade, which aims to highlight the lack of panto this year and the wider damage to the theatre and live events industries, will also take place on a different route. Both marches will end at Westminster ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions.
MPs will be invited to come and meet those participating, who will self-organise into groups of up to five, to find out how the pandemic has affected them and what further support is needed. ExcludedUK has been running a series of ‘Lobby Weeks’, bringing affected constituents together with their MPs to tell the human stories of how being excluded from government Covid-19 financial support has affected them. This ‘lobby hour’ between 11:30am and 12:30pm on 30 September will form part of this series of events, with the clear objective of keeping the issue of the 3 million taxpayers across the UK excluded from support through no fault of their own firmly on the agenda and to push for more support within Parliament.
Once both marches reach Westminster there will be a number of speakers including: Nica Burns (Nimax Theatres CEO), Philippa Childs (Head of Bectu), Paul Fleming (Equity general secretary elect) and Anneka Hicks (ExcludedUK), possibly with more to be confirmed.
The groups are coming together to call for:
• adapting the schemes to ensure those who have not been eligible are able to access urgent support, not having received any meaningful support for 6 months
• an extension to the furlough scheme (CJRS) for the theatre and live events industries until Spring 2021 and also an exemption from employers’ contributions
• an extension of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) until 2021
• Government backed insurance for live events and theatre performances
• a subsidised theatre ticket scheme while social distancing remains in place
Later in the evening #WeMakeEvents will be asking venues to turn red as part of a co-ordinated day of action to highlight the lack of events taking place across the UK. A number of projections are also being organised on key venues and buildings in London.
One of the founders of ExcludedUK, Sonali Joshi said, “3 million individuals and businesses have been excluded from meaningful government support, with little to no income for 6 months. This has resulted in severe hardship, mounting debt and a mental health crisis, and the longer-term impacts are set to become more acute amid so much uncertainty ahead. Livelihoods and businesses across diverse professions and industries all across the UK are affected and people need support urgently. We call on the Government to act now to support those who have not been helped during the pandemic through no fault of their own.”
Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “The challenges facing theatre and live events are too acute to continue to be overlooked. The government’s well intentioned announcements have failed to deliver meaningful support or the certainty that is needed so far. The economic contribution of these industries, through the commitment of the workforce, punch well above many other sectors. We have lost the magic of panto for this year and we hope our calls and this collective action will allow theatre to return well before the panto season in 2021.
Equity general secretary elect Paul Fleming said: “The performing arts and entertainment workforce are the experts on what‘s needed to get live performance back, more inclusively than ever before - with all the social and economic benefits of our key sector of the economy. The 30th September is an unprecedented opportunity for our members who work in theatre, light entertainment, circus & variety to put our four pillar tests, and their lived experiences their point of view straight to the lawmakers.
Join us there at our safely organised event if you can and feel able. Join us online if you can’t. There’s always strength in the union.”
#WeMakeEvents events team lead Gavin Eldridge said: “It’s more vital than ever that we pull together as an industry to highlight the need for government support for the entire events industry. The Panto Parade is a very important part of the day of global activity on 30 September, and will undoubtedly help the quest to draw attention to our plight.”
Notes to editors:
• ExcludedUK is a grassroots volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation established in response to the financial challenges faced by individuals and businesses entirely or largely excluded from government Covid-19 support: www.excludeduk.org
• The organisers of the parade are closely monitoring COVID-19 transmission developments and will cancel the parade if it appears to be too risky at the time.
• Precautions being taken to protect people from the spread of the virus include: participants being asked to self-organise into groups of a maximum of five, observe social distancing, wear face masks and register in advance: ExcludedUK: www.excludeduk.org / other organisations - Eventbrite: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/121349759397
• People will be asked to gather at 9.45am at Cambridge Circus (Bectu) / Southbank National Theatre (ExcludedUK) with the aim of leaving at 10am and arriving at Richmond Terrace for 10:45 for speeches. The event will finish at Parliament Square at 11:30am ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions