Postponement and cancellation of major events and a halt in production due to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a decline in revenues of the event and entertainment industry, including artists, organisers as well as the media that broadcast such programmes. This decline is now becoming much more prominent with the lockdown, choking the lifeline of the industry.
Seeking the urgent intervention of the Government of India, the Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) recently filed a petition, asking for support to revive the industry.
Sharing the overall impact on the industry amid the outbreak, Sanjoy Roy, President, EEMA, told BestMediaInfo.com how the industry is dealing with loss and how long it will take for its revival if the situation stabilises or persists.
“Our estimation is that already in this period in the organised and the unorganised sector, at least Rs 40,000 crore worth of work has been stopped, which is 90 to 95%. So even if the situation stabilises now, because production lines are shut and supply chains are disrupted, it will take between eight weeks and three months for things to get back to normal. And given that this has happened at the back of the economic slowdown, it's going to take a year or so to be able to get out of the present situation,” he said.
Sixty million people associated with the sector have been affected by the lockdown. The association says of the 60 million, 10 million have been directly impacted and their livelihood is at risk as all major national events have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic. Losses for the first two months are over Rs 3,000 crore.
Estimating the impact on the industry if the outbreak continues, Roy said many SMEs will not be able to get back on their feet because they won't have the wherewithal to cope. He said that if EEMA companies don't learn to innovate, they would be out of business.
“This is the time for collaboration, innovation. I think every period of destruction provides an opportunity for revival, new ideas and new thoughts. The companies that can adopt and be nimble and agile will survive,” he said.
Roy suggested the companies associated with the event and entertainment industry have to work across segments, thinking out-of-the-box while relooking at the way how entertainment is being marketed, consumed and also rethink the format of entertainment. While majority is shifting to digital, he said it has to be much more local in content.
The pandemic has led to cancellations of conferences, both public and private, national/international meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions, etc. Besides the 10 million it employs directly, the events and entertainment industry indirectly provides jobs to another 50 million through allied sectors such as food and beverages, hospitality, tourism, advertising and marketing industry.
Talking about the petition, Roy said the association is seeking some basic support such as refund of income tax.
“It should be ensured that all central and state governments pay their dues to this sector for work that's been or was completed. So that it actually goes into the system for the legitimate work. We've asked the MSME department to relax norms under which they provide loans in the sector, because right now it's difficult to access loans. And then separately, we want them to look if it is possible to compensate for workers’ wages and find a way to be able to help artists as they are in an insecure profession—if they don't perform, they don't earn,” he explained.
It also sought GST rationalisation.
Roy shed some light on how the association was still ensuring to serve the public with some or other form of entertainment.
EEMA is running a series where artists come forward and perform and sharing with everyone on social media. It is also doing a knowledge series to bring forth new innovations, ideas and thoughts to upgrade skills.
Apart from this, to lessen the impact of the loss, he said, “We have been advising our EEMA companies to look at new products to roll out for online as opposed to on-ground. However, this is an industry that works across so many segments. You can do some of it online but it would be very limited. And then what is the online financial model? That is the biggest question for us.”
He explained how the impact on the industry has led to a loss of advertisers as well. “The problem is that when there is no sale, no product to supply, what will advertise? And after a while, people will get so used to not buying anything luxurious; they will prefer everything local, which would result in lesser advertising,” he said.