Coronavirus: Event production crews cry out for targeted support as they face weeks without work

The nationwide move to traffic light setting red means production crews are facing weeks, potentially months, without work.

The entertainment industry was only just starting to bounce back, and those behind the scenes are desperate for targeted support.

"It wipes us out basically. Most of us, this is our career, this is what we do, which is unlike anything else, so once the events go down, we go down with it," says RB Productions manager Robbie Barclay.

He spent Monday packing down after one of the lucky last events. After Saturday's L.A.B. concert at Western Springs, the gear and the crews face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

"It's like a wildfire through the whole industry, we just had calls straight away. Cancellations, postponements, yep, it's sunk in," he says.

Saturday was Barclay's first big outdoor gig in 23 months since the ill-fated Elton John tour.

Cancelled events have left roadies, soundies, and production companies all over the country without work.

"There's nothing to do. Clean up the business, tidy up the workshop, maintenance and stuff like that, all without income. We'll find things to do because we have to," says Barclay.

NZ Roadies & Riggers has also lost all of its work overnight.

"We are hugely impacted by this red traffic light system. We have been fortunate to service the festivals we did," says manager and coordinator Paeuri Nicholls.

It's the third time unlucky for Christchurch's production of Madagascar the Musical.

"We're still coming to grips with what's happened, but yeah, we're getting there," says resident director Nick Purdie.

After rescheduling twice, the musical was able to get just six performances in before the curtain dropped.

"We were really hopeful that we'd be able to get it across the line this time. We owed it to our company, we owed it to our cast, and we owed it to the Christchurch audiences as well, but unfortunately it just wasn't meant to be," Purdie says.

It's not just concerts and musicals dropping like flies - Warbirds Over Wanaka has been grounded for the second time in a row.

"I'm probably a little bit wary over saying we could hold one in 2024, I'd like to be optimistic but who knows," says Warbirds Over Wanaka community trust chair John Gilks.

The government's insurance scheme covers 90 percent of unrecoverable costs incurred by large-event organisers, up until April 3.

Warbirds is outside the scheme's timeframe.

"You just have to wear it, you simply have to wear it," says Gilks.

Video production and equipment company Big Picture says wearing it doesn't cut it.

"We do feel sometimes that we've been forgotten about as an industry. While the rest of the country is coming back to some sort of normality, until we can do events with over 100 people we can't really operate," says general manager Paul Carppe.

He wants to see targeted support for event crews. At best they'll be twiddling their thumbs, at worst they'll be upping sticks.

"A good half of the freelancers out there have moved on to other businesses, I think this might push another quarter of those over the edge as well. So when jobs do come back, we're really going to struggle to actually be able to deliver them," Carppe says.

NZ Roadies & Riggers wants the wage subsidy reinstated.

"The wage subsidy helped immensely. We were able to retain all our qualified and experienced crew and techs. Bring back the wage subsidy for companies like ours," Nicholls says.

2022 turning out to be a bum note for an industry so reliant on the show going on.