Melbourne based events supplier Harry the hirer has published a video urging the Victorian government to provide support to the state’s events sector, which has endured over 6 months of shutdown, and to agree a proactive plan for events to re-open
Harry the hirer CEO Gab Robinson, who fronts the video, talked with Event Organisers about the motivation for the video and the state of the Victorian events sector.
“Its not so much about Harry the hirer, its about our industry. Broadly speaking its about raising awareness. We have a responsibility to our people and our families and anything that builds momentum towards opening the event and exhibition industry.” He says.
“We respect the Victorian Government’s decisions and the needs they have to balance, but we’ve got zero revenue and we have no way to survive this extended shutdown.”
Gab sets out the plight of the events industry in stark terms. “We’re not talking a 20 or 30% reduction in income for businesses in our industry. We’re talking 100% loss of income. It’s not loss of revenue, it’s a shutdown.”
His presentation in the video makes two simple proposals to government.
“First and foremost, what needs to be done is to have a plan to reopen with timelines & guidelines, so we can step by step, get outdoor and indoor events going again. And we appreciate that comes with challenges.” He explains.
“Second to that, if that’s not possible there has to be some targeted support provided to businesses within our industry, to enable them to see their way through this. You can’t be silent on both camps. Either industry opens gradually, methodically and in a safe way and with plenty of time provided to allow us to get ready for that. Or, if for whatever reason, government feels that’s not right, then we ask for support. There can’t be nothing though, because if there’s nothing it [the events industry] will go. All the IP, all the unique talent and all the equipment that has been invested year after year, it all disappears.”
“Victoria prides and defines itself on being the events capital of the world. That means so much for our culture and to our people. If they [government] want to keep that, they must act and protect it by either re-opening, and if they can’t do that (which we respect) by providing targeted support.”
The clock is ticking for the events industry and Gab Robinson is under no illusions about how long Victorian event businesses can hold out for, without something happening soon. “Businesses are already closing” He starts, but after a pause continues. “We’ve run out of time. Some of the stronger businesses will find a way through, but the weaker ones may not. Just consider the people and their families and their right to earn a living. I think there are 80,000 event professionals in Victoria and through no fault of their own they can no longer earn a living. What does that mean for them in the long term?”
“We’ve been doing a huge amount of work in the background over the past 6 or 7 months and this video is just one of those things. The release times well with the events season hitting its peak period in Victoria [in usual times]. For example, we’ve got the Grand Final Caulfield Cup, Moto GP and Cox Plate [cancelled at the time of writing] so, there may be some media interest around it. We thought this might be one more initiative that inches us closer to the two objectives we’re seeking.”
As we all wait for the wheels of government & advocacy machinery to turn and determine our fates, Gab Robinson has a message for event professionals in Victoria and all over Australia. “Don’t give up” he says. “Have hope and have a long-term perspective. Things will turn around, this won’t last forever and we’ll get through this. Don’t give up and hang in there.”