Pantomime dames, creative workers and others excluded from UK government support during the COVID-19 pandemic joined together on Wednesday 30 September for a colourful and creative protest through Westminster.
The Panto Parade, which started in the West End, highlighted the postponement and cancellation of this year’s pantomimes scheduled in theatres across the UK, and the damage to the theatre and live events industry caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The dames donned colourful costumes and campaigners held banners with poignant slogans such as “22 years a stage manager. It’s not just a viable job, it’s my life”; “Arts is valid, we are valid” and the aptly-phrased “Are you behind us?”
Supporters of ExcludedUK marched from the Southbank to Parliament Square at the same time.
— Bectu (@bectu) September 30, 2020
The protest was in line with the #WeMakeEvents campaign’s Global Day of Action, unifying to highlight the plight of the live events industry in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. At 8pm local time on 30 September, live events professionals and campaigners engaged in a range of creative responses following the affects of the pandemic on the sector, such as bathing iconic buildings in red light as part of the ongoing #LightItRed campaign, as well as shining beams of white light into the night sky to highlight those who have lost jobs following the lockdown of live events.
Fabulous demo today with panto dames calling for support from @RishiSunak.
— Alison Thewliss (@alisonthewliss) September 30, 2020
At a rally en route in Trafalgar Square, protestors heard from Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs; Shadow Minister for the Cultural Industries, Tracy Brabin MP; Nimax Theatres CEO, Nica Burns; and Excluded UK Founder, Anneka Hicks.