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The Cold Hard Truth about Singapore’s Events Industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Let’s face it – no matter where you are in the world, you have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way or other. On 23rd January this year, Singapore had its first COVID-19 case. This led to one of the most devastating declines that the country’s events industries would face. Being a start-up, Position 5 Singapore was very fortunate to have secured a good number of events during its first two years of operations. Although the events industry is relatively saturated here, it seemed like there was enough pie to go around. However, when Singapore announced that we were going into the circuit breaker on 3 April 2020, I can safely say on behalf of many of my event counterparts, we knew we were doomed. 

According to TTGmice, in a survey conducted with over 170 event organisers and suppliers, the findings revealed that 70% of event businesses in Singapore have experienced a 90% drop in revenue. Personally, in our experience, the decrease in revenue is much closer to 98%. Phase 1 of the circuit breaker, aka Singapore’s version of a lockdown, saw the temporary closure of all non-essential workplaces from 7th April. Most employees would be able to continue to work from home however, all events had been cancelled, indefinitely. 

Many event companies had been forced to hibernate and some of us had branched out into live streaming or visual events. While some event companies managed to put together ideas such as live streaming equipment kits consisting of web cameras, audio interfaces, microphones, etc, the revenue from renting the kits could not match what we would be earning in actual events. Back in April, Lumina Live’s Managing Director, David See, kickstarted the #SaveEventsSG campaign. 

On 19 May 2020, our government announced that we would exit the Circuit Breaker period on 1 June 2020, and embark on a three-phased approach to resume activities safely. When most people returned to work with safe distancing measures in place, local events companies in Singapore watched as other businesses resumed normal activities. However, up until today, due to the classification of the event business, we are required to apply for Time-Limited Exemptions (which need to be justified) to return to our offices, retrieve our items, and be on our way. Many of us continue to work tirelessly from home, trying our best to upskill ourselves in any way and crack our brains on what we can do to revive our companies. 

As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. From gambling at bus stops to 2-hour queues for bubble tea and fully booked restaurants immediately after the circuit breaker ended, we can draw a conclusion. That is, human beings are ultimately social creatures. So unless you are a psychopath, sociopath you would probably crave some form of socialization, even if it’s with your furry friends. Nothing can beat the adrenaline rush you feel when attending a music festival, live concert, or take your breath away when you see the latest gadgets being demonstrated on a large stage. This is only made possible with events and event companies. We are often unseen and unheard even though we are the ones who bring these wonderful and memorable experiences to you. There has been a huge influx of online events lately in an effort to imitate real-life events and many event organisers have put in tremendous efforts to make online events as experiential as possible. Even so, it is important to realise that online events are confined to the capabilities of your Wi-Fi connection and digital device. Considering the current state of technology, it is unlikely that online events can closely reflect the experience of a live event for now. Hence, live physical events will not become obsolete just yet. 

Position 5 was founded by two people who love gaming and live music. Our motto will forever be: supporting your every need. In these dire times, we hold on tightly to our beliefs knowing that events will never perish. We love organising events and believe that when the time comes, events will come back bigger and better. If you would like to get to know us, we have started our own live stream channel during the events industry downtime, where we showcase our interests like gaming and music. Please feel free to check us out on: 

Twitch

or 

Facebook

Let’s all hope that the events industry recovers from this crisis soon. In the meantime, I have written this post to shed some light on the current situation of this industry. Of course, it is largely based on our personal experiences and feedback from our event counterparts. We are thankful for the many friends we have in the industry and would like to offer you some words of encouragement. As cheesy as it sounds, we are all in this together and we will make it through. 

Love, 

Position 5 Singapore

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