A coalition of the top concert promoters, venue managers and show producers have joined forces to request federal aid for the live entertainment industry as it faces an existential crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Billboard obtained a copy of the memo, which calls on Congress to expand the Paycheck Protection Act to entertainment companies with 500 or fewer employees, as well as an expansion of loans to mid-sized businesses under the CARES Act and the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program.
“Our businesses were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” reads the memo, dated April 2020, which lists 19 organizations as signatories including AEG, Live Nation and The Broadway League. “Without immediate financial assistance, the future of the public entertainment and event industry is in question. Accordingly, Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry.”
The letter, which is not signed by any individual executives at any of the listed companies, also lists Feld Entertainment, Spectra Venue Management and VenuWorks, as well as race and triathlon organizers connected to The Ironman Group and The Spartan Group as signatories. “Congress and the insurance industry must establish a Business Recovery Fund for the public entertainment and event industry, modeled on the 9-11 Victims fund, to aid the businesses and their employees that were forced to shut down due to COVID-19 and will continue to struggle even after the economy restarts,” it continues.
The events industry has been brutalized by the economic shutdown that followed the COVID-19 crisis, with events facing unilateral cancellation through nearly all of North America and many companies facing the possibility of going an entire year without any revenue.
“Many insurance carriers have pre-emptively asserted that property damage and event cancellation policies will not provide coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states. So far, more than 25,000 jobs have already been lost as a result of the stay-at-home order and the industry faces the loss of $10 billion to $12 billion this summer, and potentially double that exposure if events are shut down until 2021.
“We expect the industry will continue to be disproportionately impacted, as it is likely that even once many of the current orders are relaxed there may well continue to be restrictions and limitations imposed upon public gatherings for an extended period,” the letter reads. “While we remain committed to preserving our workforce to the greatest extent possible, it will take much longer for venues, production companies and promoters to fully resume business once the immediate public health emergency has passed. Targeted relief for the public entertainment and event industry [through the CARES act] in the form of customized criteria for workforce restoration is necessary to address these longer-term challenges.”
The unnamed group also is requesting that the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Association establish a working group with members of the entertainment industry “to put forth voluntary guidelines that can be implemented by venues,” adding, “Organizations that comply with these guidelines should receive protection from COVID-19-related lawsuits.”
The group is the second live entertainment effort to lobby Congress for financial assistance. Early this month, a coalition of more than 800 independent building owners and promoters formed the National Independent Venue Association to lobby for assistance.
Today’s letter also includes the Endurance Sports Coalition, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, the International Association of Venue Managers, the National Association of Theater Owners and the Society of Independent Show Organizers.
Billboard reached out to several organizations listed as signatories of the letter, who confirmed its authenticity but opted not to comment at this time.