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UK Touring and Live Events - The State of the Nation

"Today’s world seems to be at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to the world that we had when writing my first article two years ago about the booming live events and touring industry and the wealth of growing opportunities that we were seeing on a pretty much daily basis. How things have changed within a relatively short period of time and who could have foreseen the challenges that would be facing us all in 2020?"

 

The live music sector alone contributed £1.1billion in 2018, an increase of 10% on the previous year.  The total contribution of the UK live music and live events industry to the UK economy is in excess of £100 billion each year, with the UK being very much the market leader and one that overseas counterparts aspire to.

And then Coronavirus struck and turned the world on its head. . .

This has impacted particularly heavily on live events and touring arenas where it has been impossible to adhere to social distancing measures, whilst maintaining financial viability. It has been described as ‘someone switching the light off’ and everything literally stopped overnight. It is an industry at crisis point where we are seeing multiple company closures, loss of jobs and enviable skill sets which have typically been the life work of so many. It is heart breaking to see the situation that many of our industry friends, ranging from the large rental companies to the one man bands, now find themselves in.

Andy Dockerty, MD of Adlib commented “ The pandemic has been devastating for the Live events industry. From the 20th March to mid October we have had over £15m worth of work cancelled and tragically had to make 55 of our workforce redundant, We are desperate not to lose any more of our incredibly talented team, however, it appears that all of the proposed government’s support is not fit for purpose for our sector.
Our sector, when allowed will come back quickly, but until mass gatherings are allowed our income monthly is between 5% to 10% of our normal income. It appears that the governments programmes of support do not truly factor in the requirements of the industry supply chain. Venues appear to be getting some assistance whilst the needs of the production companies and their suppliers seem to have been overlooked.

We are currently witnessing some works returning in our installation departments which is encouraging. Our biggest investment since March has been into streaming systems with pretty much our only rental department income has been generated from. We have also managed to install streaming systems to clubs, churches and educational establishments.

The whole Live Events sector is in the same predicament. However with the lack of support between now and a return date, there will be a lot of casualties and a fear that the equivalent European companies supported by their governments may take the mantle that the UK currently has as a world leader.”

Broadcast service providers are also among the hardest hit further to tv production being shut down or delayed. As a key supplier to this sector, we have certainly felt the impact of this ourselves. During the first week of April, our revenue dropped by almost 70%. However, we remained open for business throughout, a decision of which has been pivotal to our own survival whilst providing valuable support to our customers.

Alex Hadjigeorgiou, Technical Manager of broadcast rental company FAC365 says “I work for one of the few companies who has ‘Carried On’ during the Covid Pandemic . I consider myself very fortunate that our business has had enough work to stay afloat.  We have been doing a combination of rental into broadcast and installation for the past few months.

Whenever  we have been onsite conversations have mainly revolved around the issues thrown up by the pandemic and the problems that none of us thought we would face. 
Actually getting hold of some products has been a real challenge which has frequently led to that commonly uttered phase - ‘Its strange times that we are living in...’  Thankfully Canford has helped us out on more than one occasion whilst maintaining their usual high level of friendly service and support throughout.

Rental companies have warehouses full of kit, but they are unable to provide a rental cost due to their admin staff being furloughed. They are unable to prepare the kit as they have no warehouse staff in, or sales teams that can give you the cost but no idea when the goods might arrive…
Strange Times appears to be a huge under statement for a period of time that will be seen as the death of a large part of an industry that could be viewed as one of the UK’s biggest jewels in its crown. I just hope that enough companies make it out the other side so that we have some chance of rekindling the greatest entertainment industry in the world and the amazing staff that make it possible.”

We live in Hope...

During lockdown, Canford provided some very useful Green-GO training webinars. These were well attended and gave customers the opportunity to refresh and improve their technical knowledge on this cost-effective IP comms system - which is now common place among AV and Touring clients hire stock. Similarly to Green-GO, many of Canford’s most recent product developments have evolved as a result of the touring and live events sectors becoming an ever greater part of our business. The relationships that we have with our customers are paramount, and we continue to work closely with them to design and manufacture distinctive products that are critical to their everyday needs during this unprecedented time and into the future.

The new EMO Power Distribution panels are an example of this, where specifications were required to meet with the requisites of todays’ user and a range of 1U and 2U panels were born. Models offer various different locking connector options and LED power status indicators, whilst keeping size and weight to a minimum due to the importance of premium rack space and weight considerations. See www.canford.co.uk/EMO.

Another typical requirement is for an Audio Splitter Panel or perhaps more commonly known in the north as a ‘JIZ’ panel. It is used to passively split signals between multiple mixing consoles by way of a Tourline multipin connector breaking out to individual XLRs. Canford Manufacturing is indeed no stranger to these requests and different variations of this product are well within their area of expertise. See www.canford.co.uk/Custom-panels.

As a solutions provider, developing products that eradicate the ‘hassle factor’ and more importantly cost, is integral to our role. One such product is the Canford Universal Connection Panel - Rapid Assembly. Designed to allow rapid rear mounting of connector configurations without the need for specialist tools or fiddly nuts. Supplied complete with mounting frames and M3 screws. See www.canford.co.uk/Canford-Universal-Connection-Panels-Rapid-Assembly.

Whilst we have not come through this completely unscathed, we have so far been fortunate enough to weather the storm. Many have had to adapt to a new way of working (ourselves included) and branching out into live streaming and virtual concerts/ events. Whilst there is a lot of ‘the unknown’ within these current uncertain times, we hope that Canford can at least provide some reassurance to our friends and colleagues out there that we are still here to provide the best possible levels of service and support throughout and that you and your families remain safe and well.

Government support schemes are changing rapidly. All information correct 01 November 2020.

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