The Shut Down
In March of 2020, the live entertainment industry went dark. Large gatherings were restricted everywhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All venues, large and small, were shut down completely. Tours were halted, artists and employees were sent home, and a majority of events set to take place in 2020 were either cancelled or rescheduled.
According to a recent report, “between April 1 and July 31, 2020, Colorado’s statewide music industry lost 8,327 jobs and $344.6 million in sales revenue”. This sudden shutdown had a monumental effect on the live entertainment industry as well as the economy as a whole.
Millions of people were directly affected. Specifically, gig workers, freelancers, and independent venues seemed to take the hardest hit. A lot of people that work to put on the events and shows that so many of us go to are self-employed. These independent contractors work on a show-to-show basis and aren’t employed by a single company. Therefore, they can’t file for or receive unemployment.
We Make Events
According to We Make Events, it takes approximately 500 people to make a single event happen. This includes positions such as lighting and video crews, venue staff, logistics coordinators, artist liaisons, and so many more. Since the shutdown, “77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers” (independent contractors).
The RESTART Act
The RESTART Act (S.3814) was introduced on May 21st, 2020 by Todd Young of Indiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado. They claimed that the Paycheck Protection Program was insufficient for the small businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bill “establishes a loan program whereby the Small Business Administration (SBA) shall guarantee loan amounts to certain businesses affected by COVID-19”. Recipients of the loan would be able to receive “specified allowable expenses including payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment”. This would allow for loans “with terms of up to seven years for businesses with up to 5,000 employees”. In summary, this act is in favor of service industry professionals being effected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.
As of right now, there are no resources or funds for these unofficially unemployed people. The RESTART Act is pushing to help these individuals and independent venues stay afloat during these current times.
One week ago on September 1st, the RESTART Act’s Day of Action took place. Over 2,000 performance venues and landmarks across the entire nation lit up bright red from 9:00 PM to midnight. The organization’s goal was to see 1,500 venues light up in red, so the increased participation was overwhelming.
In Colorado, venues included The Wheeler Opera House, Empower Field at Mile High, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Mission Ballroom, and The Aggie Theater. In addition to venues, various Colorado companies also support the act. These include 7S Management, Conscious Alliance, and Symbiotic Events.
The purpose of this day of action was to signal a Red Alert for the music and entertainment industries. Many people in the general public are unaware of the sheer amount of people it takes to put on events, and therefore the amount of those affected.
Ever since the start of the campaign a few weeks ago, different artists, bands, and comedians have come forward to advocate for the RESTART Act. These people include Gavin DeGraw, The Goo Goo Dolls, and more.
“Don’t Let Events Go Dark”
The live entertainment industry was one of the very first industries to get shut down due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19. Unfortunately, it will also be one of the very last ones to reopen. Over twelve million workers desperately want to get back to work, but it is still unsafe to do so. Not only is this their sole income, but it’s also their passion and what they’ve committed their life’s work to.
The Red Alert Day of Action has already gained a huge amount of attention both in and out of the industry. People around the globe are watching, so now is the time to make our voices heard! This is not the end.
This is the most important time for everyone to use the momentum that has already been gained by the day of action. The fight is not over until Congress reads and signs the RESTART Act into action. The bill is already put together, so we now need to urge Congress to look at and pass the act. The good news is that there are a few easy ways for you to help!
How You Can Help
Click here to turn your favorite live event photo red. Then, post it to Instagram with the following caption and hashtags to raise awareness on the issue.
“#RedAlertRESTART: the live events we love may never recover from the pandemic, we need to take action! Take 2 minutes to contact your representatives here, and post a red photo of you at your favorite event, too: https://wemakeevents.org #WeMakeEvents #ExtendPUA“