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The Forum in Tunbridge Wells joins venues across the UK in 'Red Alert' campaign to save live events industry

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A renowned Kent music venue is leading a plea to the government for greater financial support for the live events industry, as the threat of its collapse looms.

The Forum, in Tunbridge Wells, will be lit up in red from tonight at 8pm to highlight the severe financial plight of venues across the UK, which have been closed since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

Watch KMTV's report on the Forum hosting the campaign

The organisers state that the 'Red Alert' campaign reflects the rallying cry from the live events sector, which has reached critical status.

Professionals from across the industry have also been sharing #WeMakeEvents across social media throughout the day, in a bid to remind people of the cliff edge that the UK's live venues in are currently balancing on.

Roland Hemming, an audio engineer from Tunbridge Wells who is part of the campaign, hopes the push will kickstart a move to protect the industry events as well as the employees who make them happen.

He said: "The live events industry is on the brink of collapse.

"Normally we're used to working behind the scenes - we're not noticed anywhere, you only see us when something goes wrong.

The Forum will be lit up red to highlight the risk of the live events industry
The Forum will be lit up red to highlight the risk of the live events industry

"We employ about 500,000 people. We're a hugely profitable industry, we're bigger than aviation, three times the size of football and growing at five times the speed of the rest of economy.

"But currently there is no work and it's going to collapse unless there's something done to protect us."

The west Kent venue first donned red lighting on July 6 to raise awareness of the danger facing the events industry following the pandemic.

The Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) last month announced a £1.57 billion injection into the sector to prevent its collapse, but Roland said the money has appeared to predominantly be made available for theatres, large venues and institutions, with just a small amount going to grassroots venues like the Forum.

The campaign is also calling for financial support for freelance workers across the sector, which make up 72% of the entire workforce.

Roland Hemming is part of the push to secure greater financial support for venues
Roland Hemming is part of the push to secure greater financial support for venues

It also hopes the government will consider extending the furlough scheme and offer capital grants for businesses working in the entertainment industry.

Roland said: "People are being made redundant everyday at the moment and companies are closing everyday, and it isn't a question of when the pandemic is over that'll they'll all be able to come back - they won't be there to come back.

"A whole load of events that people are used to going to - simply won't be able to be staged again."

Kate Griffiths, a theatrical make-up artist, is one of the many Kent entertainment professionals dealing with a lack of freelance opportunities.

The last time she worked was March 19.

Kate Griffiths is a self-employed make-up artist
Kate Griffiths is a self-employed make-up artist

She said: "It's just really sad, the whole industry has just disappeared.

"All my live events, media events, photo shoots - everything has just gone, and we're left waiting."

The current social distancing measures mean that even if events were able to go ahead, Kate would not be able to touch her client's faces.

As a freelancer, the prospect of financial help drying up is frightening.

She added: "We get our Universal Credit, and the income support, and then there's talk of that being it.

"It's just really sad, the whole industry has just disappeared..."

"We're freelancers, we have nothing else. What are the government going to do to support us? That's the question."

The Forum is one of 20 venues across the country taking part in tonight's event.

People are invited to gather outside the venue from 8pm, and will include talks from professionals across the industry as well as a live stream to the London event.

The campaign has been spearheaded by the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA).

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