Venues To Go Red In Support of Entertainment Workers in Time For Labor Day

The Straz Center will be bathed in red light tonight as it joins 1,500 venues across North America in support of #WeMakeEvents’ “Red Alert Day of Action” to raise awareness of the financial impact COVID-19 is having on the live event industry.

We are excited to support this movement by lighting our building red tonight,” said Summer Bohnenkamp, Straz vice president of programming and marketing. 

Performing arts venues nationwide will go red tonight from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET.

The Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), headquartered in the United Kingdom, launched the #WeMakeEvents campaign in early August in response to the pandemic’s long-term effects on the entertainment workforce. More than 1 million workers in the UK events sector are out of work, according to campaign organizers. On Aug. 11, performing and concert venues across the UK, including the venerable Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Stadium in London, went red in support of those who are unemployed.

On Sept. 1, less than a week before Labor Day, the annual celebration of the American worker, the campaign crosses the Atlantic when the United States and Canada will shine a red spotlight on millions of unemployed North American entertainment workers on the “Red Alert Day of Action.”

“This is an important cause that, if not acted upon immediately, could result in the complete collapse of our industry and the workers who make it possible,” Brad Nelms, director of #WeMakeEvents North America, said in a statement. “The results from the UK efforts were outstanding. We’re hoping that we can generate at least double the participation to demonstrate how much impact this shutdown has had and will continue to have.”

Actors, musicians, backstage professionals, food service, venue staff are among those laid off or furloughed since March when venues nationwide were shuttered in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Those workers are facing persistent unemployment as the COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to grow and the venues remain closed.

Some particulars:

  • Broadway won’t reopen until sometime in 2021
  • Large venue concerts may not return until 2022
  • Live events employ more than 12 million people
  • The entertainment sector contributes $1 trillion into the U.S. economy annually
  • The Straz has had a nearly $130,000,000 contribution to the economic development of the Tampa Bay community
  • 95 percent of live events have been canceled due to COVID-19
  • 96 percent of companies have cut staff and/or wages
  • 77 percent of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers (Source: wemakeevents.org)

The #WeMakeEvents’s call to action is in support of a proposed extension of the RESTART Act, now before Congress, which offers economic relief to the live events industry, including loans to cover payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses for small and mid-sized businesses and nonprofits that have suffered significant losses in revenue.

#WeMakeEvents also supports ExtendPUA.org in its efforts to continue the Pandemic Unemployment Act – the now-expired $600 weekly federal supplement to state unemployment payments.

Other aid bills — Save Our Stages Act and the HEALS Act, — were being negotiated in Congress, before they went on August recess.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) a sponsor of Save Our Stages, feels strongly about the need to help the entertainment industry.

 “All of us believe that independent venues are vital,” the senator said in mid-August during a live stream event. “But due to COVID there’s no revenue coming into these places. Independent venues were among the very first [businesses] to close during the pandemic and will be among the last to reopen — so we have to make sure they get federal funding.”

The #WeMakeEvents.org website offers ways for all of us to help the “Red Alert Day of Action” including joining a regional planning team or sharing your story on social media on what live events mean to you using the hashtags #WeMakeEvents, #RedAlertRESTART and #ExtendPUA. They also urge contacting your congressional leaders and encourage you to light up your home, porch or apartment red for the month of September and to share those photos on social media.

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