Following the country's quarantine in March, companies in the events sector have set up the Events Industry Association to defend their interests and help save thousands of jobs in the industry. Although the quarantine conditions are being relaxed, there is still a lot of uncertainty about when and under what conditions events will be able to take place. It is already clear that this sector will undoubtedly be one of the most economically affected.
"These days, supermarkets are already opening and many people are flocking to them. The question is why the possibility of allowing events to take place in the near future is not being considered if all security requirements are met," said Diana Bukantaitė-Kutkevičienė, board member of the Event Industry Association and manager of DOMINO Theatre.
The Event Industry Association communicates not only with the Lithuanian but also with the European Union authorities in order to find ways to effectively address the sector's challenges.
"The problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have already taken a huge toll on the events industry. Since mid-March, most companies in the sector have had zero revenues. We are actively proposing measures to the authorities to make the situation as effective as possible. We have also joined the Nordic Event Industry Alliance to ensure that we are heard by the most important European institutions, together with our foreign colleagues," said Gediminas Jaunius, Chairman of the Board of the Event Industry Association.
"We have submitted a letter to the European Parliament, together with our colleagues abroad, pointing out that the events market has now shrunk by 100% and that the majority of the industry has only 1-3 months of liquidity reserves. Our Association has been working seamlessly with and sharing experiences with partners in the Nordic region since its inception. In today's context, a united voice in dealing with the European Parliament is becoming very important, so I am glad that we are working together and that our Association's name is already being heard in the European institutions", said Marijus Olekas, Member of the Board of Directors of the Association of the Event Industry, Head of the UAB "Lietuvis".
"We bring together many different businesses, from event caterers to technical service companies. We want to prevent the bankruptcy of companies in the events chain and protect thousands of people working in the events industry who today face a real risk of losing their jobs in the near future. We have addressed both the Lithuanian institutions and the European Parliament and have proposed a package of measures on how the entire sector can be saved.
The key issue now is the deferral or suspension of fiscal and social contributions. Also, the inclusion of event organisers as a separate business structure in all documents providing for subsidies or other aid measures, together with exhibition organisers", said Gediminas Jaunius, Chairman of the Board of the Association.
The letter to the European Parliament also proposes to provide quick and easy access to short- and medium-term loans to maintain liquidity. It also calls for uniform guidelines at European level on how the events sector should conduct cultural, entertainment, business gatherings and other events, so that Member States can adapt their national legal frameworks to a single model.
Currently, dozens of organisations belong to the Lithuanian Event Industry Association, and more than three hundred thousand consumers have purchased tickets for events postponed due to the Government's quarantine, who would also be affected by the problems in the event industry if they are not properly addressed. In the near future, probably this week, the Parliament is expected to consider a special law that will establish the procedures and conditions that will apply to the rescheduling of events that have not taken place due to the quarantine and the refund of tickets. The Event Industry Association, which has worked closely with the state authorities on the drafting of the law, hopes that the amendments proposed by the Association will be taken into account by the members of the Seimas and that the draft law will be adopted in a way that will allow consumers to receive the purchased service - the event - a little later and will give the event industry a chance to survive. Representatives of the Event Industry Association say that without the necessary state aid, the number of bankruptcies of event companies is likely to start rising at a record pace from mid-May.