On September 1st I served as the Master Electrician for the Playhouse Theatre as we turned the Penn State arts district red in support of #RedAlertRestart. Venues and buildings across the United States did the same to support the cause organized by We Make Events. It was my honor to raise awareness for this cause while working with designers Piper Kleinburg and John Kaufman.
Live events are suffering. Personally, I haven't had the privilege of working on a live show since February of this year. Recently Dr. Anthony Faucci said it could be a full year after we have a vaccine before live entertainment is safe again. The problem is the workers in our industry simply can't wait that long.
According to We Make Events:
Live events employ millions of people across the country.
Live events is an $877-billion industry.
95% of live events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
96% of companies have cut staff and/or wages.
77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers.
As it stands right now, COVID-19 relief bills are completely stalled in congress. Meanwhile, the workers of our industry continue to struggle. For the first time since beginning my career, I took a summer job that was unrelated to theatre. I know many of my colleagues have done the same. By the time we work on shows that are allowed to have crowds, it will likely be well over a year off.
America needs the entertainment industry and we need the arts. We consume arts and entertainment all the time. These things are critical pieces of our culture. Consumption went up and production went down as we all moved into quarantine. If all of the creators of entertainment lose everything, then who knows if we can actually bounce back. We keep saying events will return as if it is automatic, but that might not be true.
I believe it is time for us all to take action. Turning buildings red was an amazing moment where we saw people coming together across the nation to rally around a cause. Congress needs to help the millions of Americans that are suffering at this very moment. The assistance ran out, but the pandemic rages on. We all lost the moment that COVID-19 became a partisan issue. We need to band together as one country and fight this virus.
What can you do? Write your congressperson, wear a mask, vote in November, and consider all of the people still being impacted when you go about daily life.