The live event scene, decimated for months by the COVID-19 shutdown of the economy, is holding a #RedAlertRESTART event on Tuesday, September 1, from 9pm to midnight, to illuminate the exteriors of publicly visible buildings with red light to draw attention to their desperate economic plight. “The hope is to get as many people involved as possible… We are trying to engage lighting professionals as well as the greater live events industry,” said Michael Moore, on behalf of Local 23 in RI of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) trade labor union.
According to information provided by Moore to Motif, “Thousands of events have been canceled, 77% of the people in our industry have lost 100% of their income, 96% of companies have cut staff, [and] 97% of [non-employee contract] workers have lost their jobs.” In addition, “Over half of businesses expect to lose 70-100% of their income for 2020.”
Supporting the lighting, there is a “Red Alert March” beginning at 6pm in Downcity PVD: According to its Facebook event page, “we will be gathering [near the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC)] on the corner of Pine St and Richmond St in Providence, and walking to the front steps of the Dunkin Donuts Center for a brief rally. Since the support we are asking for benefits everyone, we are asking you to join us in this call to action, no matter your industry.” The march will observe physical distancing, mask wearing, and other public health rules.
The RI effort is part of a synchronized international effort as the 9pm – midnight local time window rolls across Europe and North America. “The goal is to raise public awareness that the live events industry is on Red Alert for its very survival, and create congressional pressure to act now,” wrote Ellen Lampert-Greaux in the trade publication Live Design. “#WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART and #ExtendPUA represent a major call to action on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, imploring the US Congress to pass the RESTART Act (S.3814) as quickly as possible, offering economic relief to the live events industry, which has been shuttered since March 2020, putting millions of people out of work. Additionally, the movement is to support ExtendPUA.org in their efforts towards continuation and extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide relief to those without work due to COVID-19.”
Moore said, “The focus of the event is to make as many people as possible aware of just how much the live events industry has been devastated by the pandemic. The hope is that public awareness will encourage political awareness and the need for continued support… the general public does not understand how many are affected, including technology providers, caterers, designers, manufacturers, event planners, logistics and transportation teams, entertainers, producers, show crews, exhibit builders, decorators, and all of the support staff at venues of all sizes.” Moore asked that tech providers who can light their own buildings do so, and invited anyone interested in collaborating with others to let him know at the Local 23 Facebook page. He encouraged everyone who sees the lightings to take and share pictures on social media with hashtags #WeMakeEvents and #RedAlertRESTART.
The RESTART (“Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards A Recovery in Twenty-twenty”) Act is a bipartisan bill, proposed in the US Senate (S.3814) by Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN), that would create a new program similar to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) but with fewer restrictions on the purposes of the money, allowing it to be used to pay fixed operating expenses such as rent and other essential non-payroll expenses. “The PPP has worked well for some businesses, but is often less effective for the businesses that should be receiving the most assistance – the smallest businesses or those who have seen revenues decline the most. Its limited duration will also leave many of the most-affected businesses without support in the difficult months ahead,” Young said in a statement. In an interview on NPR in May, Bennet criticized the PPP more directly. “And importantly, unlike PPP, our bill is focused on the hardest-hit businesses. These are businesses that have lost 25% of their revenue or more. It’s focused on our smallest businesses as well as our small and medium-sized businesses. Too much of the PPP money went to businesses that didn’t need it. I think we need to be more – at the same time more focused and a little more generous in terms of who receives it.”
Over 2,000 small event venues throughout the country face imminent bankruptcy without additional federal government assistance, according to the newly formed National Independent Venue Association, running a #SaveOurStages campaign, noting that, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, “arts and culture contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. That same year, there were over 5 million wage‐and‐salary workers employed in the arts and cultural sector, earning a total of $405 billion.”