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Code Red! The Festival, Club And Entertainment Scene Are Dying! #LightSAred

Lockdown in South Africa might have been for a good cause to help stop the spread of the virus but it looks like it has taken a chunk of bread from other  people, especially in the entertainment and events industry. 

We had an chat with Sharif Baker, the spokesperson of #LightSAred. He enlightened us on the purpose of the LighstSAred campaign.

This organisation was formed in support of the entertainment and events industry that is dying in South Africa. On 5 August 2020, the South African technical production and live events industry, under the #LightSAred movement, will light various parts of South Africa red, in order to highlight the crippling implications the lockdown has had on the industry after 5 months of no work or income. 

We celebrated humanity with thousands of other humans, this might have seemed like it was a lifetime ago but it’s not and for thousands in the events industry, it is more than five paychecks ago. Due to the restrictions on public gatherings during the covid-19 pandemic, the events industry is in a state of emergency that is as life-threatening as the current pandemic!

“We are only a small nation, hanging out on the tip of Africa, but there are a few things that make South Africans unique. Most notably, our ability to sing and dance in the face of tragedy, struggle and adversity defines us as a nation. When the HIV/Aids pandemic threatened  to wipe out millions, we gathered under the banner of Nelson Mandela’s prison number at the 4664 concerts to make our voices heard,” said Sharif. When FiFA world cup finally came to our continent, we showed the world what it means to celebrate life. When our beloved Madiba passed on, we raised our voices in song, together, and celebrated his legacy. Every defining moment in our history has been marked by our ability to gather, embrace, sing and dance- and we are about to turn off lights, cut the sound and strike the stage forever. 

Who are they?

When you go to a festival, concert, sports game, or prayer gathering, it is very easy to forget all that goes into making those few moments of your life safe and memorable. There is an army of hard-working, dedicated people that have spent months planning every detail. Before you swipe your ticket at the turnstile, a team of technicians have built a stage, rigged the lights and sound, done sound checks, rehearsed, and safety checked every single aspect of the event. While you jol, these people run around dressed in black and make sure the sound never falters, the lights stay on and that our artist can do what they do best! When you go home, the crew stays behind to pack everything up-something only reaching their homes in the early hours of morning.

What’s the problem?

Currently, members of the technical production workforce have no way to make a living. The companies that hire them are going out of business. The people that supply equipment are shutting up shop. The production companies that bring artists to our shores are silenced. The venues that host gigs are closing their doors. If something is not done to help the industry survive during lockdown, when we are allowed to go out again-there will be nowhere to go!

What can you do ?

The Technical production and events industry in South Africa, call on you- our fellow South Africans. On 05 August, the crews will be deployed throughout the country to #LightSAred.

-If you see a building in your area lit up, please take a pic and #LightSAred on your social media.

-Find a pic of you and your peep at a jol, and repost it with #LightSAred.

-Light up your home in red.

-Find a treasured ticket stub, your favourite party dress, your concert and festival memorable and light I in red.

-It will also be life on facebook  with the hashtag #LightSAred from 10:00 to 20:00.

We were also fortunate enough to have a chat with the spoke-person Sharif Baker and discussed the movement.

The #LightSAred focuses on creating awareness of the events industry that has been suffering from the side effects of the current pandemic. We were curious on finding out whether a formal complaint was lodged with the government on this and if the campaign will go as far as digital. “We have lodged numerous forms of communication with the custodian government department that looks after events in South Africa (DCAS) but with limited response from administrators, in fact the response has been basically “We will get back to you” and 5 months later our next step was an obvious one but we needed to stay within the confines of the law and thus our  “symbolic resistance”  campaign to #LightSAred … Why red? It is the international colour of emergency and that is exactly what we are in , an emergency. To conclude we have travelled a meticulous path to this point and thus in response to your question of will this only go as far as digital awareness, the answer is no. We are both confident and professional. We will resolve and continue our journey until we have a seat at the table to discuss strategy on our industry” he stated.

“It has hit us quite harshly as to date many of the employees are still awaiting a pay-out for either UIF or Ters and obviously those that have received so far only received for 3 months, which is rather frustrating as our industry is only ear-marked to return under lockdown level 1 and thus the expectation is that there should be some sort of reprieve or adjusted consideration as of this fact,” he added..

He then mentioned that they have engaged with the owners of each building that they wish to illuminate and obtained permission. “Over and above a person lighting up their own business or home we have chosen large or iconic buildings to illuminate so as to capture the attention of both the public and government. The buildings will be lit using the same lighting fixtures that we use on events and once positioned correctly are capable of encompassing the largest of structures. As to the solidarity of anyone at home it can be done by covering a flood light with a coloured gel or lampshade in their homes with red material. Every action taken will not be intrusive or seen as trespassing or regarded as vandalism,” says Sharif.

We asked him what type of buildings they will light up and he told us that, they will light up the building red where they are able to and with permission they will be lighting iconic buildings around the country but also homes, private business and landmarks.

The campaign is only for one night and for 2 hours between the hours of 6 and 8 pm, again so as to comply with regulation and curfew. However, the #lightSAred campaign will live on for as long as it is necessary as of the vantage of social media platforms until we have created the awareness and attention to get us a seat at the table.

“As we are entertainment , we will be hosting various artists throughout the day as well as clips, footage and crossovers to the various sites and buildings around the country that are being lit as the teams set up. Also, we will have crew members doing shout outs in solidarity as well as guest hosts discussing the challenges, ideas and journeys thus far as well as answering questions that will come through, in summation  we have planned an extensive program to air our plight and showcase who we are,” he said in response to what the viewers will be engaging in on the Live Stream. 

The new normal is upon us. We get to decide what it will look like!

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