OnTheWight always welcomes a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.
This open letter to Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely. Ed
I’d like to thank you for being among first to draw attention to the plight of the festival and events industry at the start of the summer.
As a provider of sound and lighting systems for festivals and events on the Island it meant a lot to know that our industry was being represented.
Working as sound engineer for 15 years
I have always been passionate about music on the Island. My dad was a conductor at the IOW Music Centre, I attended Platform One music college on the Island, then went to Leeds College of Music to get a degree in music production.
After Uni I returned to the Island and for the last 15 years have been working as a sound engineer at events and festivals across Europe; and investing the money I earned into equipment which I hire out on the Island.
My business is small, but provides me with a living. I employ a lot of casual staff over the summer, but most importantly feel that I give something back to the Island – enabling high quality cultural events to happen on a scale and budget that suits the Island’s situation.
This summer has been really hard.
I pay rent for a storage unit with a ‘cash in hand’ agreement and my lack of a rateable business premises or lease agreement has meant I’ve been ineligible for any business grants, but still have the overheads of rent, vehicle, public liability insurance, employers liability insurance etc to cover.
The SEISS gave me two small grants, which were worked out as a percentage of my profit for previous years. These were totally eaten up by my aforementioned overheads. The continuing 20 percent offering won’t cover these overheads.
Forced to sell equipment to survive the winter
Over the summer I have been doing a variety of gardening jobs and working on peoples’ boats to earn enough money to feed myself and pay my rent – However, winter is coming and I am worried that I won’t be able to afford to heat my house.
I’m now considering selling some of the equipment I’ve worked very hard to build up, just so I can survive the winter.
My life falling apart
It kinda hurts when Rishi Sunak says my business is ‘unviable’, because really what I’m looking at is my life falling apart – I’ve spent the last 20 years training and learning skills, investing in a career that really makes peoples lives better. And now it’s unviable.
In many ways I’m lucky. I’ve never built up debt so don’t have that hanging over me – I have the opportunity to choose a new career if it comes to it.
But I really do think that the things that I – and many like me – do are valuable to our society and should be supported by this government in these difficult times.
Can you help?
We need a decent support package for the live events sector.
Could I please ask that you do all you can to help?
Kind Regards, Ben Wilbee
Image: © A Higher Sound