With the furlough scheme coming to an end, how many jobs are at risk in the events and exhibition industry?

If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know the struggles facing the events industry. We have been excluded. With the furlough scheme coming to an end and no sign of a restart date, how many jobs are at risk? To answer that question, we have to look at how many people work in the events industry.

Key Statistics

  • The events industry contributes £70 billion to the UK economy each year
  • Conferences, meetings and exhibitions equate for 79% of this economic contribution
  • 85 million people attend events each year
  • There are over 10,000 events venues in the UK
  • 61% of business operating in the events industry expect to be closed within six months
  • 1,000,000 people work in the live events industry
  • 90,000 events jobs are predicted to be lost in October with the furlough scheme coming to an end
  • 400,000 events jobs are predicted to be lost by the end of 2020 if the industry does not receive further support
  • 95% of the live event supply chain were not eligible for the Chancellor’s cultural recovery fund

The Scope of the Events Industry

Everyone loves the events industry. People look forward to festivals, wedding and sports tournaments. And we, the people that make your events happen, love what we do.

The problem is festivals and live music are just the tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg is massive.

The events industry is worth £70 billion to the UK economy. One-third of the UK visitor economy is accounted for by events. We have over 10,000 venues and 85 million people attend our events each year.

It’s more than festivals. The events industry is the home of:

    • Seminars
    • Conferences
    • Marathons
    • Galas
    • Festivals
    • Weddings
    • Exhibitions
    • Parties
    • Sports Tournaments
    • Workshops

Despite this impressive list, the chancellor has excluded the events industry from further support.

With the current support packages coming to an end, a survey by Feast It found that 61% of businesses operating within the events industry expect to be closed within six months. The study also found 400,000 jobs will be gone from this industry by the end of 2020.

#WeMakeEvents Campaign

The #WeMakeEvents campaign launched in London and quickly spread across the world. Venues lit up in red to highlight the crisis facing our sector. We are on red alert.

As highlighted by Feast It’s study, businesses are ready to close their doors. 90,000 jobs are at risk. This month.

The campaign highlights the fact that we were the first industry to close and are yet to have a restart date. Rishi Sunak has excluded our industry from further support packages, despite being unable to do our jobs. The majority of businesses in the events industry have not raised an invoice since March.

A handful of venues received additional support, which has allowed them to remain operational. However, one survey revealed 95% of the live event supply chain were bypassed by the cultural recovery fund.

Furthermore, the latest job retention scheme requires employees to work for at least one third of their normal working hours. Events aren’t happening. And they may not happen until September 2021.

We can’t work, not even for a third of our hours. Therefore, we have no access to the job retention scheme or further support.

What the Event Industry Needs

To keep the events industry alive, the #WeMakeEvents campaign is looking for support to help us get back to work. They are asking for:

      1. A government backed COVID-19 insurance scheme
      2. Government support for widespread proactive COVID-19 testing for event attendees
      3. A three-year extension to the reduced cultural VAT rate on tickets in line with DCMS recommendations

However, currently, we can’t get back to work. Gatherings are restricted by legislation, which is preventing us from doing our jobs. Until such a time that events can resume, the #WeMakeEvents campaign is asking for:

      1. Grants (not loans) made available to businesses in the events supply chain
      2. A specific job support scheme for live events supply chain until the government guidelines change on social distancing to allow a commercially viable return to work

How many people work in the Events Industry?

#WeMakeEvents predict there are up to 1,000,000 people working in the live events sector. This includes almost 600,000 people working in the outdoor events industry and a further 115,000 working in the conference and exhibition industry.

A large percentage of the workforce are highly-skilled freelancers. They work on a self-employed basis. It’s the nature of the job. The industry is seasonal and there isn’t a constant stream of work.

Each year 278,000 weddings take place in the UK. More than three-quarters of these weddings take place between April and September.

This has been another problem that the sector has faced. Our freelancers were unable to access financial support.

Quadrant2Design design, manufacture and build exhibition stands. We are an event industry supplier; however, our role is very niche. Like the wedding industry, we are also affected by seasonality.

How many people does it take to create your Exhibition Stand?

We can’t give the exact statistics for the event industries employment figures. Different sources say different things and that’s just part of the problem. If Boris Johnson and his team of merry men can’t put a number on it, how can they protect these jobs?

What we can tell you is how many people are involved in one exhibition stand.

Firstly, you have to find us. You could do this via a web search, email marketing, word-of-mouth or a member of our design team might reach out directly to you. In this step alone you have a full sales and marketing team, but for argument’s sake, we’ll say two.

Then you have to brief us so we design an exhibition stand that you love. This goes straight to one of our design consultants. Once they have the brief, they work with a 3D CAD designer. The two work together on your free 3D design proposal until they are both happy with the stand. Then, your design consultant presents your design.

Once you sign off your 3D design, you are designated a project manager. They are responsible for everything that goes on in-house (which saves you a lot of time!). Your exhibition stand design is passed to a graphic designer that specialises in large format print.

If you’re keeping track, currently six people are involved in designing your exhibition stand.

The design process is complete once you’ve signed off on your graphics. And then it’s time to manufacture. We do everything in-house, so your graphics are printed downstairs in our factory. Depending on the size of your stand, this requires 1 – 2 members of staff that are fully trained on all of the equipment.

It is our in-house team that pre-build your stand to make sure everything is perfect. Again, depending on the size, this requires 1 – 2 people. These installers will pack up and transport your stand to your venue for installation at the show.

In total, ten different people have contributed to your exhibition stand. These are all highly talented individuals who have spent years perfecting their skills.

And this is just one stand. Taking the International Food Expo as one example, with 1,350 exhibitors, you can start to imagine how many people are involved in the events industry supply chain.

Event Industry Supply Chain

People need more than exhibition stands when they are attending a trade show. Our project managers work closely with several other businesses to make sure every exhibition stand runs smoothly.

As well as venues and event organisers, hosting an exhibition requires caterers, furniture and audiovisual rental, carpet rental, cleaners, marshals, lighting designers, stage builders, riggers, printers and more.

Imagine the scope of the events industry if each of these suppliers required ten people per exhibition stand. And this is just exhibitions.

There are thousands of roles involved in the events industry supply chain. These roles are viable. And they need to be protected.


The events industry is the home of 1,000,000 workers, many of which are self-employed freelancers. The coronavirus restrictions have meant many of us are unable to do our jobs.

Thousands of event planners, venues and event industry suppliers have not raised an invoice since March.

Of one million workers, 400,000 are at risk of unemployment by the end of 2020. This is because the government have failed to offer financial support to an entire industry.

The winter economic plan continued to exclude the events industry from support. Businesses are preparing to close their doors for good.

The people employed in the events industry are viable. The work they do might be behind-the-scenes, but without them, there are no events. No festivals. No live music. No networking. No weddings. No sports tournaments.

Without them, the UK loses £70 billion annually. And that will filter through several industries as business travel and hotel bookings dwindle.

Sure, Edwina Currie thinks we’re not worth saving. Rishi Sunak thinks it’s time we retrain and find ‘better jobs’. But the events industry know what we’re worth. And we will continue to show resilience when faced with a crisis.