The music has stopped. The theatre lights have been dimmed indefinitely. The sound of cheering and applause has become a distant memory. The South African events industry is busy dying a very painful death.

When the Covid-19 pandemic reached our shores in early March, not many of us could begin to envision the dire effect the subsequent lockdown would have on the livelihood of countless South Africans. Unfortunately, the events sector was one of the first to be affected when measures were being implemented to impede the spread of the virus.

Artists, freelancers, venues, theatres, technical crews, equipment & service suppliers, and a myriad of other trades, were soon plagued with cancellations. Once schools were closed and gatherings of more than 50 people became outlawed, a very grave reality struck – the sector was in for a very, very arduous ride. Countless operators have been without work for 5 months. Venues are closing their doors. Vendors are going out of business. Production companies and festival organizers have no work. Tech crews can no longer support their families.  The industry’s collective morale is fast waning fast. Desperation is mounting.

Their passion has purpose

The events sector wants one thing – for their voices to be heard.  For the longest time, they have kept us entertained and helped create beautiful memories that would last us a lifetime. They can no longer be overlooked. They are now standing up for themselves and their industry, hoping that their desperate pleas will not fall on deaf ears.

In order to survive, the industry needs financial relief to be extended to those who normally earn a living in the live events and technical production industries. The powers that be need to engage with industry leaders and a solution has to be found that will lead to not only the survival of individual operators within the industry but the sector as a whole.  By garnering as much support as possible for this campaign, the chances of the industry being heard increases exponentially.

What does the campaign entail?

The #LightSAred campaign will see the events industry unite to make their voices heard on 5 August 2020.  South Africans operating within the industry are invited to raise awareness on the day by lighting everything up in red – from a building or empty stage to your garden or musical instruments –  between 18:00 and 20:00.

The #LightSAred crew have also listed a number of other innovative ways in which you can show your solidarity with the cause:

  • If you see a building in your area lit up, please take a pic and #LightSAred on your social media.
  • Find a pic of you and your peep at a jol, and repost it with #LightSAred.
  • Light up your home in red.
  • Find a treasured ticket stub, your favorite party dress, your concert, and festival memorabilia and light it in red.

Although registrations for PUBLIC sites closed on 28 July, private properties can be registered right up until the event on 05 August on the #LightSAred website.

More than 670 structures were lit up across the UK

Similar initiatives have successfully taken place across the world where buildings, monuments, landmarks, structures, and empty theatres have been illuminated in “Emergency Red” to highlight the enormous challenges facing live events, music, and performing arts sectors. In the UK, #LightItinRed saw over 670 buildings lit, while in Germany, the #NightofLight2020 had an incredible 9 000 sites.

Although it often becomes difficult to remain positive during turbulent times, it is important to remember that anything is possible when South Africans join hands and support incredible initiatives such as these.

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