18th Sep, 2020

Now hear this! Redditch firm's plea as it makes 50 redundant

Ross Crawford 10th Aug, 2020

TWO Redditch companies are to be bathed in red tomorrow night to highlight the plight of the Britain’s struggling entertainment industry.

Moons Moat-based Audio SSE provides sound systems for major live events, tours and festivals like Reading and Leeds and this week announced it is to make 50 redundancies – a quarter of its workforce – due to the ongoing pandemic.

It is being joined by Lakeside-based FlybyNite – a music studios and haulage firm – to take part in ‘Throw Us a Line’ a nationwide plea to the Government to offer some form of help to the entertainment industry.

“This has been a thriving industry, one that Britain should be proud of given the amount of money it generates for the Exchequer,” said Geoff Penn, brother of SSE founder John Penn.

“We’re talking ticket sales, hotel rooms, meals out – there is a massive amount of income generated for the government and if they support this industry it will soon come back, but as it is we desperately need the furlough scheme to be extended.”

At the start of 2020, SSE Audio were preparing for another record-breaking year. Spring and Summer tours were booked with artists ranging from Stormzy to Franki Valli, and over 60 festivals were booked including Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds and British Summertime in Hyde Park.

Instead, all these tours and events have been cancelled.

“It’s great the Government is offering incentives to get back to work but in this industry there is no work to go back to,” said Geoff.

“There are no live events, no festivals, no tours and at this stage promoters are not going to be putting any on.”

He added a further concern was the number of freelance and casual workers who rely on companies like SSE.

“We are brokenhearted to be making these redundancies, it is the last thing we want to do.

“And it’s all very well the Government offering £1.5billion to the arts, but that’s support the ‘crown jewels’ – the Royal Opera House and the like.

“There has been no mention at all of the commercial sector, its venues and production crews.”

SSE, which also has offices in Manchester and London, has won a string of awards. Based at Burnt Meadow House on Moons Moat North it was named the Best Medium Sized Business in 2017 and 2019 in the West Midlands Masters Awards.

The firm’s founders John and Heather Penn were acknowledged by the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 and the London Stock Exchange identified SSE Audio Group as amongst 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain in 2016, and 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe in 2017.

John Penn said: “Not so long ago at the London Olympics in 2012, the UK production industries were acknowledged for their global reach in that memorable opening ceremony.

“In 1985, when the call came out to support Live Aid, the industry responded, creating incredible memories as well as funding for famine in Africa. It’s now our industry that is looking to government for support.”

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