Panto Parade to highlight continued need for Covid-19 support on 30 September

Pantomime dames, creative workers and people excluded from government support during the pandemic are joining together to march, socially distanced, through London on 30 September. 

The Panto Parade, which aims to highlight the lack of panto this year and the wider damage the theatre and live events industry are suffering, will start at Cambridge Circus and end in Parliament Square ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions. People excluded from government support during the pandemic will march from the Southbank to Parliament Square at the same time.

MPs will be invited to come and meet these people, who are self-organising into groups of up to five, to find out how the pandemic has affected them and what further support is needed.

The parade has been organised by Bectu, Equity, ExcludedUK, and #WeMakeEvents and ties into a wider day of action being co-ordinated by the organisations.

Once the parade arrives at Parliament Square there will be a number of speakers including: Nica Burns (Nimax Theatres CEO), Philippa Childs (Head of Bectu), Paul Fleming (Equity General Secretary-Elect) and more to be confirmed. 

The groups are coming together to call for:

  • An extension to the furlough scheme for the theatre and live events industries until Spring 2021 and also an exemption from employers contributions
  • An extension of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme until 2021
  • Adapting the schemes to ensure those who have not been eligible are able to access them
  • Government backed insurance for live events and theatre performances
  • A subsidised theatre ticket scheme while social distancing remains in place

Later in the evening #WeMakeEvents will be asking venues to turn red as part of a co-ordinated day of global action to highlight the lack of events taking place across the UK. A number of projections are also being organised on key venues and buildings in London. 

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “The challenges facing theatre and live events are too acute to continue to be overlooked. The government’s well intentioned announcements have failed to deliver meaningful support or the certainty that is needed so far. The economic contribution of these industries, through the commitment of the workforce, punch well above many other sectors. We have lost the magic of panto for this year and we hope our calls and this collective action will allow theatre to return well before the panto season in 2021.

Equity General Secretary-Elect Paul Fleming said: “The performing arts and entertainment workforce are the experts on what‘s needed to get live performance back, more inclusively than ever before- with all the social and economic benefits of our key sector of the economy. The 30th September is an unprecedented opportunity for our members who work in theatre, light entertainment, circus & variety to put our four pillar tests, and their lived experiences their point of view straight to the lawmakers.

"Join us there at our safely organised event if you can and feel able. Join us online if you can’t. There’s always strength in the union.”

One of the founders of ExcludedUK, Sonali Joshi said: “3 million individuals and businesses have been excluded from meaningful government support, with little to no income for 6 months. This is has resulted in severe hardship, mounting debt and a mental health crisis. Livelihoods and businesses across diverse professions and industries all across the UK are affected and need support urgently. We call on the Government to act now to support those who have not been helped during the pandemic through no fault of their own.”

#WeMakeEvents events team lead Gavin Eldridge said: “It’s more vital than ever that we pull together as an industry to highlight the need for government support for the entire events industry. The Panto Parade is a very important part of the day of global activity on the 30th September, and will undoubtedly help the quest to draw attention to our plight.”  

Notes:

  • The organisers of the parade are closely monitoring COVID-19 transmission developments and will cancel the parade if it appears to be too risky at the time.
  • Precautions being taken to protect people from the spread of the virus include: participants being asked to self-organise into groups of a maximum of five, observe social distancing, wear face masks and register on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/121349759397
  • People will be asked to gather at 0945 at Cambridge Circus with the aim of leaving at 10am and arriving at Parliament Square at 11am ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions.
  • The event will be live streamed for those who are unable to make it in person, with details to follow.