A Major Industry Destroyed And Ignored In COVID Fallout
Ever since the COVID-19 shutdowns began, there's been a little gnawing thought in the back of my head. Its been pushed back in my mind when dealing with news stories on the severity of the virus, the spread, antibody testing, and all of the aspects of this situation. Because I work in "news media" I've been constantly surrounded by some new lead or story to distract myself, but that thought has never fully gone away.
Then I was sent an extremely well written story from Nicholas Rivero at The Medium, which directly addresses that thought that's been there.
The Live Events industry is being completely destroyed by our current situation, and no one cares.
For just a second, eliminate the root cause of the situation. COVID-19 is a virus that is here now, it's not going away. It will hurt humans from this point forward, no matter what we do. It's in the catalog of viruses and diseases that ravage humans annually. So once we acknowledge that, we can appreciate the scope of what's happening.
Many people have done this for certain industries. Airlines and cruise ships are getting bailout talk, farmers are getting billions in federal money, and nearly every city has lifted up their restaurant industries to carry them through this.
See, restaurants can do curbside service, airlines are "too big too fail" in the eyes of the government, and most other industries have a 'work from home' option. But for other industries, there's no bailout, and no delivery option.
In addition to working in "news media", I work in the world of Live Events.
For most of my career, I've been doing Live Events from concerts to comic cons. I've been working with venues, promoters, and artists on concerts and appearances for musical acts, then over the last few years, I have had the privilege to help run Shreveport's comic con, Geek'd Con.
But I'm just one of many, and I have the advantage of having "news media" to fall back on.
There are THOUSANDS of people who work in the Live Events industry, and they're floating in a cancellation sea without the benefit of curbside life jacket, or a federal government lifeboat. As the story from The Medium also points out, this industry is full of people from arena and venue staff, to production vendors, artists, speakers, agencies, concessions, roadies, tour bus drivers, and many others. All of these people have just been dropped, with no hope in sight.
Only because of the way the Live Events industry operates, some of those who work in the industry do not have access to the enhanced unemployment benefits, or potentially even stimulus checks.
So now I'm looking at an industry that I have the honor of being a part of, even if it's just a small part, and my heart hurts. Nicholas Rivero's story introduced me a statement written by Michael T. Strickland, the founder of the lighting production company Bandit Lites. The first line that got my attention in Strickland's statement was:
"Each day I discover that few people understand that live entertainment production firms and their people are sitting at zero income."
Which added another level to my despair about the Live Events industry. Because not only are people completely out of work, with not future prospects, and no government assistance, they're being forgotten. Or maybe worse than forgotten, they're being ignored.
While many have taken time to lift up other industries (some more deserving for sure), Live Events has been left out. I don't just mean from bailouts either, I mean from the public's consciousness. Maybe its because, like Michael T. Strickland said, people just don't understand what goes into making this industry go, but I'm afraid its a little bit that people don't care.
My hope in writing all of this out, and maybe pushing some of you to Rivero and Strickland's stories, is that we can start to turn that around. I'm not looking for military flyovers, but I'm sure a lot of my Live Events friends wouldn't mind some inclusion in some bailouts.
Mostly my hope is that we start talking. Let people know that things are not "ok" when they aren't. Remind people that there are other industries hurting, and most of all, remind those people that when these events were happening, they LOVED them. So maybe they won't continue to turn their back on the industry.