In a live stream filmed at MGG Productions in Sandton, and hosted on SACIA’s YouTube channel, the technical production and live events industry announced the launch of a national campaign titled #LightSAred, to be held on 05 August 2020.
The industry, comprising of freelancers, venues, theatres, companies, and businesses have been unable to work since the blanket ban on all events, due to the Coronavirus, implemented in South Africa on 15 March 2020.
Sharif Baker, chair of the TPSA, announced that the technical production and live events industry will be spearheading a symbolic resistance campaign that will see buildings across the country lit up in red on 05 August.
“The colour red is the international colour of EMERGENCY,” Baker explained. “We are following the example set by our colleagues in Germany and the UK in lighting our national monuments red to highlight the desperate plight of our industry under current lockdown policies and regulations.” Baker went on to emphasise that the #LightSAred campaign is not affiliated with any political body or ideology. “We are simply an events industry in dire straits that is currently being ignored.”
Joining Baker during the live launch was Kevan Jones, Executive Director of SACIA. “As a recognised industry association for the communications industry in Southern Africa, we have been trying to engage the Government and the Department of Arts and Culture for five months. We were the first industry to be shut down under the lockdown restrictions, and we will likely be the last to be allowed to return to full capacity. Despite this, we have not received any acknowledgement from Government to date.”
Projeni Pather, who is the chair of AAXO added to the debate, stating that “the events industry in South Africa has always been governed by strict safety protocols and has always operated with a strong health and safety culture. “We are the best qualified to draft and implement safety protocols for events, and Government would be remiss not to allow the professionals in the industry to advise on how to stage events in a safe and responsible manner.”
According to Sharif, Duncan Riley of DWR Distribution, a major supplier of equipment and services to the events industry, was the inspiration behind #LightSAred. “We are fighting for our lives and for the lives of the people that this industry supports,” said Riley.
“Five months into this lockdown, and things are getting difficult for everyone in our industry. The money is running out, and we are facing challenges that are far greater than one company or one individual. After speaking with a few colleagues, we decided to look at what has been achieved in the industry overseas and start our own call to action. The #LightSAred campaign has exploded from there, and we are very excited about what we can achieve moving forward.”
Baker made the aims of the campaign very clear during his public address: “We demand that government and financial institutions extend financial relief to those who earn a living in the technical production and live events industry until we are permitted to resume work. In addition, we need the South African Government to engage with elected leaders within SACIA and the SA Events Council, and provide a platform for our voices to be heard. Lastly,
#LightSAred demands that the Government recognize and support the Non-Profit Organisations that are trying to sustain destitute members of the technical production and live events industry.”
The #LightSAred campaign calls on all South Africans to join us as we light buildings in red to raise awareness of our plight. Individuals, companies, and anyone concerned about the future of live events can participate by lighting a building, an empty stage, a garden or any object in red, then taking a photo and sharing it on their social media platforms while including the campaign hashtag, #LightSAred.
In closing, Baker stated: “Mr. President! We thank you for all that you and your Government are doing to keep us safe in the plight of this pandemic…but it is time for you to have trust in us as a country to not only support you but to take responsibility in assisting to get our country operational and safe again. To this end – we implore you to please get your house in order! Unless you wish for our SYMBOLIC resistance to escalate – please hear our plea and acknowledge our mission statement.”