The 16 businesses have formed the Jersey Event, Entertainment and Nightclub Stakeholders Group to lobby government for increased support for their struggling industries after being unable to work or operate for most of 2020 – a trend which looks set to continue for the first half of this year.
They say that their industries have lost more than 70% of their income since the start of the pandemic and that accessing the government’s support packages has been made virtually impossible due to it being based on previous year’s income.
In a statement, the group said: ‘While we understand and agree with the need for these restrictions on events, we have been suffering massive detriment since restrictions were imposed and, unlike other industries who have had periods of a return to some reasonable levels of business, we have not had any opportunity to operate at any reasonable levels since March. Due to the nature of our businesses, we will not be able to operate at pre-Covid levels of business until the social distancing requirements are removed.
‘With the industry on its knees and on the verge of collapse, this group has been set up as an urgent call for help and to explain to the people of Jersey just how unfairly we have been treated by our government throughout the Covid pandemic.’
Industry representatives met ministers on 29 July to request specific financial support. This arrived on 5 January in the form of the Visitor Attraction and Event Support Scheme.
The requirements for the scheme included a minimum annual turnover of £300,000 and must be registered for GST purposes – something the group said is not fit for purpose.
They added: ‘Unfortunately the application criteria for the financial support package has several requirements that puts the application beyond almost every business within the industry.
‘Without some sort of financial support beyond the gratefully received Payroll Co-funding Scheme, the businesses within the Jersey events, entertainment and nightclub industry face the real possibility that we will not be able to keep our businesses open.’
The group are calling for the government to provide a suitable financial package that is ‘fit for purpose’.
‘The event and entertainment businesses, venues and individuals in the UK have a number of avenues of financial support available to them including the Arts Council grants and government loan schemes. To date, Jersey events and entertainment businesses have no accessible, specific support available.’
And the group have said that the collapse of the industry would impact ‘every person on the Island’ and leave even those events able to survive, such as the Battle of Flowers and the Jersey International Air Display, without suppliers or technical support.
‘There would be no local companies or promoters to put on and support concerts with international and local artists,’ the statement continued. ‘There may not be any nightclubs or venues left to go to in order to be entertained.
‘Event-led tourism only exists because of the ability for events to be held and hosted at many venues and locations around the Island, supported by entertainers, caterers, marquee suppliers and technical support from many event suppliers. There could be no event companies, or event suppliers available for your wedding, birthday, anniversary, or company functions.’
Without financial support, the group believes businesses in the industry will be forced to close.