Trending in Twitter’s top three on the night, the #LightItInRed campaign saw over 670 buildings, monuments, landmarks and structures all over the UK illuminated in ‘Emergency Red’ on Monday 6 July to highlight the vast challenges facing the live events, music and performing arts sectors.
The action was organised – in under a week – by Steven Haynes from Clearsound Productions and Phillip Berryman from The Backstage Theatre Jobs Forum and was a massive success. On the eve of the event, the government announced a 1.57bn financial assistance package for arts and culture including live music venues, independent cinemas and heritage sites which has been widely welcomed by everyone.
“Shows and events stopped abruptly in March and we have yet to receive any kind of roadmap or timeline for restarting,” explained Haynes. “Making it near impossible for businesses to plan their survival with no expectation of when they can expect cashflow.”
Haynes has organised several other lighting actions since the COVID-19 lockdown began, with #LightItInRed being the biggest, most comprehensive, and most successful so far. For this one – inspired by a similar lighting action in Germany at the end of June – he and Berryman gave themselves a week to organise, and momentum built rapidly and organically via social media and through word of mouth, reaching a massive crescendo on the night.
Iconic structures illuminated in red included The Eden Project in Cornwall – where GLX lit all eight of the inter-linked geodesic transparent domes; Blackpool Tower which turned its permanent LED lighting scheme red for the night and the elegant metal skeleton of Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in Somerset, which shimmered red thanks to the great work of locally based rental company, Fineline.
The furthest North red installation on the UK mainland was Aberdeen Art Centre Aberdeen in Scotland and the furthest South the Apollo Theatre in Newport, Isle of Wight. To the West, it was the amazing cliff-side location of the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Penzance, and the eastward map point was The Seagull Theatre and the Players Theatre, both in Lowestoft.
Scotland was further represented by red radiance in Edinburgh where several companies, including Blacklight – their warehouse and the International Fringe festival Hub – theatres and the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) went red. The mysterious McCaig’s Tower in Oban was lit by OaE and there were installations in Glasgow, Ayr, Dalry and Kilmarnock and others including three venues on The Shetland Islands which were the overall farthest north participants.
In Northern Ireland, theatres and Arts centres got onboard including the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine which joined the Great Oak in Bangor Town , The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) and the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast with the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, Armagh also helping paint the province red for the night.
In Wales, Aberystwyth Arts Centre on the west coast rocked it in red, while in Swansea Total Sound Solutions lit their HQ and Swansea Grand Theatre went red. In capital city Cardiff several technical and event companies turned their bases red including Stage Lighting Services, SWG Events, Production 78, and T&M Technical Services. Just over the Severn Bridge in Cwmbran, UK lighting control manufacturer Zero 88 turned their HQ and factory ruby red in support.
As you might expect, in and around London hundreds of #LightItInRed supporters highlighted buildings including the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House, The Lyceum in the Strand, home to the Lion King and over the road, the renowned south terrace of Somerset House turned its architectural scheme to red. Many other popular theatres and concert halls went red for the night including the London Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall, together with numerous AV and technical production companies plus another lighting control manufacturer, Avolites, based in north-west London.
In Wigan, Leisuretec UK lit the full 131m width of the front elevation of the DW Stadium in arguably one of the physically largest light works of the night. Academy Music Group activated the building lighting schemes on two of their venues – The O2 Guildhall Southampton and the O2 Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
Brighton excelled with the illumination of 13 sites – from hotels and churches to theatres, clubs and live music venues – a mammoth undertaking coordinated by Brighton EPIC with technical project management by Ian Baird of Whisky Bravo Productions. Companies involved included Select Security and Stewarding, SMART Power, E3 Events, C3 Productions, H2 Productions, Same Sky, Melting Vinyl and Reveries Events.
Some of the rental companies firing up their warehouses and offices in red included: 4Wall UK, CPL, Colour Sound Experiment, GLS, Halo, Liteup, LCR, Neg Earth, Niclen UK, Peachy Productions – who lit the fabulous Queen Anne style Antrobus House in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Spiral Stage Lighting, White Light and so many more.
Offshore, the Shetland Islands didn’t have it all to themselves, Jersey Opera House enthusiastically embraced the night as did Follow Me in the Netherlands and Numeo in Kaufungen Germany and the furthest away installation of the night were two sites in Dubai coordinated by Stefan Wieland from SQRD Consultancy.
Clearsound Productions partnered with moving light / LED technology manufacturer Robe’s UK office to asst in lighting 10 eye-catching sites across their hometown of Northampton. Topping the list there was the magnificent façade of stately home Althorp House, seat of Lord Spencer a keen advocate for the arts; and the neoclassical Delapré Abbey site, plus the famous Royal & Derngate Theatre right at the centre of the town, normally one of the most active and diverse producing / receiving houses in the South East.
Clearsound Productions were assisted by Onpoint Logistics who supplied trucking for the substantial amount of lighting kit needed to illuminate Northampton – their eye-catching and spangly clean truck also became an ‘incidental’ part of the Delapré Abbey installation.
PLASA also supported #LightItInRed and provided valuable statistics and research information. Haynes concluded: “It was very ambitious to organise a nationwide event in such a short space of time, and we were very fortunate to be working with the Backstage theatre Jobs community which spread the message far and wide and definitely contributed to the take up among theatres and arts venues! The overall response has been amazing. We want to thank each and every company, organisation and person who lit up, did, said and / or posted something in support!”
He added: “We hope that this has an impact and helps make politicians realise the importance of live events, music and performing arts, and the need for specialist sector-specific assistance for an industry that produces so much creativity, positive energy, thought provocation, entertainment, employment and commerce.”
Within the same week period, several other actions have highlighted the crisis facing live entertainment including #LetTheMusicPlay, #SceneChange and PLASA’s #WeMakeEvents. Asked if this will be the final lighting action, Haynes concluded: “If we still need to get the industry noticed after this round of government announcements and financial packages.”