Thousands of folks who work in the live events industry, we likely don’t have to tell you, have now been out of work for nearly a year. Stage hands, techs, security, merch sellers, tour managers, promoters, various administrators, all just sitting idle, struggling to get by.
The Covid-19 vaccination effort, meanwhile, can best be described as bumbling, with people unsure of how to sign up for vaccinations, no idea where to go, and unused doses even expiring due to administrative and supply chain problems.
Now, in a letter sent to President Biden, a number of organization within the live events industry have proposed solving both problems at once: putting their staff to work to help with the vaccination effort. It’s a brilliant solution that plays right into the strongest skillsets of those who put on events: organizing people. Not to mention the large, empty buildings perfectly suited for the task they have at their disposal.
The letter was a joint effort sent on behalf of AEG, Bandit Lites, Broadway League, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), Live Nation, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO), the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Oak View Group (OVG), and We Make Events, and reads, in part, “It is our duty, as businesses rooted in communities across the nation, to do our part to set America on a positive path during this time of crisis. We stand ready to work with Federal and State governments to save lives and get America back to work and school.”
Dayna Frank, owner & CEO of First Avenue Productions and Board President of NIVA, commented:
“Since the pandemic shuttered our industry almost a year ago, our buildings and our co-workers have been paused, unutilized, and struggling. These vaccines are our best chance at putting COVID-19 behind us, and our experiences organizing events and managing crowds now put us in the unique position of being the best prepared and most qualified industry to support the vaccination effort and get this country on the road to recovery.”
Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, offered:
“It’s human nature to come together in good times and bad, and our industry is committed to doing everything in our power to bring people together again – not just for events, but for every aspect of community that we have been missing. Live Nation has venues across the country that are capable of managing critical onsite elements of the vaccine rollout and we are eager to pitch in and be part of the solution.”
The letter sent to President Biden reads in full:
“Dear Mr. President,
“Congratulations to you and Vice President Harris on an inauguration signifying the unity and hope necessary to move America forward. As you set about achieving the ambitious goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days, we wish to offer the full support and resources of the live event industry. We share your vision of expedient, equitable, and widespread vaccine distribution. It is our duty, as businesses rooted in communities across the nation, to do our part to set America on a positive path during this time of crisis. We stand ready to work with Federal and State governments to save lives and get America back to work and school.
“We represent businesses, workers and entertainers that make up the majority of the live event industry. While we have been effectively shuttered by the pandemic, we have vast resources that, if fully utilized,
could provide invaluable mechanisms in our country’s vaccine distribution. In fact because we are shuttered, we are able to offer the full weight of our industry to support vaccine distribution beginning immediately.
“We are here to help. In fact, many venues are already working on the State and Local level to implement vaccine programs. Our industry has thousands of venues throughout America that are under mandated closures and sitting empty. Event venues make ideal community vaccination sites: they are located in most urban, suburban and rural communities, often near transit lines and with easy access to parking. Our interiors are clear span with bright work lights and empty standard refrigeration systems. Due to the nature of our business, our buildings and workforce are accustomed to patron queuing and crowd management.
“Live events is one of the best prepared, best equipped, most experienced industries in America to manage and control large crowds in a rapid, organized fashion. Moving people in, out, and around a public gathering space swiftly and safely is the foundation of our industry. Additionally, our familiarity using ticketing systems for advanced notification, timed entry and crowd management can greatly improve patient experience before and during vaccination as well as on-site management. There are several thousand companies in the live event industry which own the equipment and infrastructure required to build vaccination sites. An estimated 95% of live events industry businesses and workers have lost nearly 100% of their revenue, and are ready and willing to get to work immediately. These organizations can design, deliver, and manage the infrastructure as well as the people needed to staff them.
“We have been closed for nearly one full year to protect public health. Please let us now go to work to protect public health. We share your goal to get America back to work, school and in gathering places of all kinds quickly and safely. We are ready to meet to discuss how we can help as soon as you and your staff are able.”
From where we sit at the MetalSucks Mansion, this sounds like a fantastic idea. We hope to see it come to fruition.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, suggested at a recent panel that live events could return before the year ends, saying, “If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021, so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.” He added that that very much depends on the successful rollout of the vaccine, of course, with a 70% level of inoculation necessary to achieve the desired level of herd immunity.
Meanwhile, a number of festivals and tours that had been scheduled to take place this summer have already been canceled, with more likely on the way.