JSA Stage Company took part in a review of the situation in the staging sector after a two-year breakdown due to the corona crisis. During this period, the business of staging companies in the live music industry was almost stopped. The article “STEELING THE LIMELIGHT” was published in the June issue of IQ Magazine (IQ 111 AN ILMC PUBLICATION). Based on a long-standing collaboration, at the request of the magazine’s editor – Gordon Mason, Alexander Strizhak gave a short interview for the article. It was very important in connection with the events of Russia’s war in Ukraine. This topic is close to Alexander Strizhak from both sides since JSA was founded in 1996 in Moscow, and in 2014, due to Russian aggression in Ukraine, his company left the Russian market. Currently, JSA is headquartered in Latvia, the company does business in the Baltic countries, and before the start of the big war, it was actively working on the Ukrainian market.
STEELING THE LIMELIGHT
Staging Suppliers Talk Recovery
Journalist Derek Robertson takes a look at some of the companies responsible for event infrastructure and the multiple challenges they are facing as the live music industry returns to business after a two-year hiatus.
You can read the full text of the review here: STEELING THE LIMELIGHT
Below are parts of the review text: about JSA and quotes from Alexander Strizhak.
“…Having already relocated his company HQ – and his family – from Russia to Latvia in 2014, “for political reasons,” Alexander Strizhak, owner and managing director of stage company JSA Europe, has been dealing with a catalogue of challenges over the past eight years.
That hard work paid off, and pre-pandemic, things were looking rosy again for JSA. “[The company] again became the official seller of stage structures from world leaders – Layher, SIXTY82 and Protos,” says Strizhak. “With my old friend, Asteris Koutoulas, we prepared a unique FLEXODROM project – a mobile, modular and multifunctional hall, based on structural systems from the Layher plant in Germany. At the end of 2019, we started to gain momentum, but the coronavirus crisis forced us to be very slow and again look for ways to survive in the new reality…”
“…JSA’s Strizhak has also suffered from staff shortages – especially in roles that require skilled crew. “Many former employees have already found other jobs and either do not want to return or cannot end their relationship with a new employer so quickly,” he says.
“We expected that we would be able to hire staff in Ukraine, and we planned to make a global step on this market in 2022. But now, because of the war, everything has changed, and we are again forced to find new solutions. I already found a way to [solve] this problem with the [scaffolders] for the staging, and now we have begun the process to form the new JSA Stagers team.”
War in Europe
“…Having fundamentally overhauled his life because of Russia’s military manoeuvres, JSA’s Strizhak is better placed than many to comment on the impact Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has had on the region.
He explains, “The quiet and gradual process of my withdrawal from the Russian market began a long time ago because of the Russian war in Georgia in 2008. Even then, I understood that the Kremlin would revive the hybrid USSR, using show business, including television, radio, press, cinema and, of course, live concerts and various events, as their weapons for propaganda.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the beginning of military aggression in the east of Ukraine in 2014, prompted Strizhak to close his premises in Moscow and St. Petersburg. “It was hard,” he admits. “JSA was the first professional stage company in Russia. I had a large number of employees, the company had many significant projects every year, great business connections, and a good reputation. I had to stop it all. It still saddens me that I had to leave my strong and re- liable team there. To all these people, I express my gratitude for their cooperation.”
Acknowledging that the scale of JSA’s operations took a hit following its withdrawal from Russia, Strizhak tells IQ it took him a number of years to build a new team and find “new paths” for the staging company. Some of that work involved JSA fulfilling contracts in Ukraine: Eurovision 2017 and Olerome Forum One in Kyiv; Leopolis Jazz Fest in Lviv; and Underhill Music Festival near Ivano-Frankivsk.
Indeed, he contends that Ukraine led JSA’s pandemic recovery as the country’s quarantine rules facilitated a return to business. “In 2021, the [Ukrainian] market began to recover earlier than it did in Europe and [the] UK,” reports Strizhak. “That season, many outdoor concerts and festivals took place, and JSA made good sales of stage structures for Ukrainian production companies. But we could not develop and make long-term plans in the fog of remaining restrictions.”
Russia’s invasion earlier this year put an end to all such ambitions, and Strizhak says JSA in Latvia is now involved in humanitarian projects for Ukraine in partnership with local Ukrainian societies and the local Embassy of Ukraine.
On the business side, he is again scrambling for solutions to keep his business running and says that despite the war, enquiries from other countries mean he and his staff are being kept busy. “Currently, we are focused on active work in the Baltic States and for the European market,” he reveals. “We constantly receive requests for stage structures in different countries. As a rule, these are requests for help and support opportunities for unexpected projects. So, in my opinion, we will be able to take part in big and worthy projects this summer.” And, while other companies are suffering from a scarcity of equipment, Strizhak believes JSA is in good shape for the year ahead. “We already have a sufficient stock of Layher, trusses, podiums, and large roof systems,” he says. “JSA engineers are already making structural drawings for customers. In addition, customers are quickened to purchase new designs, and we have orders. So I am optimistic about the development of the company’s business this year,” he adds.
Many thanks to Gordon Mason and his team for the good cooperation for this case. It was important for us to re-enter the professional circle of market participants, especially in this difficult time for our business.
IQ is the leading trade publication for the international live music business.
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