The Jersey event, entertainment and nightclub businesses have effectively been closed down since March 2020, due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed on events and live entertainment by the Government of Jersey.
Almost all of the businesses saw their entire 2020 diaries cleared by the end of March.
A group of businesses have now got together to form an industry group, ‘Jersey Event, Entertainment and Nightclub Stakeholders group’. There are 16 companies in the group – the members include Delta Events, Stage 2 Productions, Marquee Solutions, Weekender Festival, Harpers Catering, Royal Jersey Showgrounds, 3D Events, Vibert Marquees and more.
Event and entertainment businesses have been suffering detriment levels of over 70% and some at 100% detriment since March 2020. Now, 10 months on, they are still not able to operate at any reasonable levels, and have not received any specific and attainable support from Jersey’s Government.
A spokesman for 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. This is probably going to be many months away and could mean that we would have been trying to keep our businesses from closing, with little or no income, for more than 18 months.”
As an industry, representatives from the group met with Ministers on 29th July 2020 to request some support from Government to assist them in keeping their businesses and the industry from collapse.
“The Ministers and Government officers that our representatives met with agreed with the urgent need to support the businesses and the industry and agreed to work on a financial support package. With the assistance of Jersey Business, we supplied information and figures as requested by government to assist them in putting a support framework together.
“As business owners, this gave us some relief and we felt that we were finally able to start planning a way to shore up our businesses in the knowledge that financial support was being worked on. It wasn’t until towards the end of October that Ministers discussed and approved in principle the financial support package.
“After several more months of frustration, emails, delays and excuses the Treasury then effectively blocked the scheme as they didn’t see it as good use of public money. Senator Lyndon Farnham who has supported the industry throughout, had to apply an unprecedented ministerial order, taking responsibility of the allocation of the funds, so that the Treasury office would proceed with the support package.
“The Government finally announced the financial support package (VAES) on Tuesday 5th January, 5 months after our initial meeting with ministers. Unfortunately the application criteria for the financial support package has several requirements that puts the application beyond almost every business within the industry. Effectively this is a support package that cannot be applied for by the businesses it is designed to support; it is not fit for purpose.”
Without some sort of financial support beyond the Payroll Co-finding scheme that the industry has gratefully received, the businesses within the Jersey events, entertainment and nightclub industry face the real possibility that they will not be able to keep their businesses open. They say that this is not due to their businesses being unviable or any failings in the businesses, but solely due to the Governments restrictions that they have been suffering from for 10 months and which might go on for another 6 or 8 months.
“What business is able to operate with virtually no income for ten or eighteen months?”
“As an industry, we are only asking that the Government of Jersey provides us with a support package that is fit for purpose. A suitable package that can be applied for and made available for these event and entertainment businesses that are desperate for and without the unachievable qualifying criteria that puts it out of reach for almost everybody.”
The Event and Entertainment business 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 event and entertainment businesses have no accessible, specific support available.
The group gave some examples of how the impact to their businesses could impact Jersey:
- Imagine never having Weekender, Reasons, Wonky Town or Out-There festivals again.
- Jersey International Boat show, Liberation day, Battle of Flowers, the Air Display, Remembrance Sunday and so many more events will not have the suppliers and technical support and may not be able to go ahead.
- There would be no local companies or promotors to put on and support concerts with both international and local artists.
- There may not be any nightclubs or venues left to go to, 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.
- Sporting events will not be able to go ahead, so there will be no Jersey Marathon, Jersey Triathlon, Super League Triathlon, or any other sporting events.
- Finance, Retail and hospitality business will not have the technical support and suppliers to hold their conferences, seminars, product launches and events,
- Even the Government of Jersey and the States of Jersey, will be affected by the sudden lack of technical support, caterers and marquee companies available to assist with their many events and requirements.
- The Jersey Event, Entertainment and Nightclub businesses are entwined in every other industry and sector. Every person on the island would be effected in one way or another if this industry disappeared.
The group’s spokesperson added: “The event and entertainment industry adds a significant amount to the Jersey Economy which will be lost, employees will be unemployed and business opportunities restricted.
“Without financial support these event and Entertainment businesses will close. Jersey will lose the companies responsible for putting on and supporting all of the amazing events and functions held within the island.
“If the event, entertainment and nightclub industry in Jersey is allowed to collapse and disappear, it will have a negative effect on every person, business sector and every part of our Island Life.”
The letter from the group to the Council of Ministers can be read here.