"This is an extremely varied and complex industry and the ripple effects of those impacted by the postponement and cancellation of events is far reaching," says Eileen Valois, Coalition member and senior vice president sports and fan entertainment at PRG/VER. "While those of us that are planners know this all too well, how many people stop and think about the fact that event revenue and event-related jobs impact companies and contractors from those that supply the badges, the tickets, the food and beverage, the merchandise vendors, the broadcast trucks, the security perimeters and the first responders that protect us while we’re there, the production companies, the talent …the list goes on and on. When you think about that, the weight of the economic impact and the job loss of so many really starts to sink in."
Valois tells Billboard that the Live Events Coalition was formed to bring together all of the live events industry and advocate for all those who make events happen every day.
"We heard directly from people across the industry that they felt disconnected from each other. They had unity in their own sector of the industry perhaps, but they wanted to band together and support each other because we’re so interconnected," says Valois. "The airlines have a clear path to who is included in their group and same for the hotels. And that’s all we heard about in the initial days of this crisis. There is strength in numbers."
The online petition, now boasting the support of the Live Events Coalition and its members, is seeking a federal aid package that includes Emergency Medicaid Health insurance to cover our uninsured business owners, contractors and laid off employees, as well as the ability to submit canceled contracts as loss of income on 2020 taxes. It is also calling for $200 billion in low interest federally backed business liquidity loans and $100 billion in employee retention grants to avoid widespread layoffs.
"Many tears of fear, anger and dread have been shed today, and in the previous month, by all our families knowing the monumental cost of our sacrifice to help save our nation from the spread of the virus. Those outside our industry, they are not aware that our industry is comprised significantly of hundreds of thousands of small business and millions of workers and contractors who have already lost most income over the last month and will not have any income for the next 6 months or more to spare the spread of the virus. These are financial losses that will never be recovered," the petition reads.
While the federal aid package and building of the coalition stemmed from the COVID-19 crisis facing the live entertainment industry, Valois says this is level of industry-wide communication and advocacy will stretch beyond the virus' impact.
"Our first priority has to be the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis. We need help from the Federal Government to stabilize our industry – for workers and businesses alike. We need to address the devastating impact to our revenue stream and keep our heads above water frankly in the short term," says Valois. "Once we get through this – which we will with the right support – we’ve got a plan to advocate for our industry by offering resources in training and mentorship, tackling tough issues as they arise, and generally connecting the network that fuels the events industry so that we’re stronger together."
The Live Events Coalition is in the process of building its membership with an assortment of live event businesses already involved including AV Educate, 360 Event Productions, Chicago Planner Magazine, Special D Events, Sterling Engagements, On Site Management LLC, The Anthem Group, TourTech, Bond Events and more.