Event planners, caterers, DJs, A/V techs, performers, designers and a multitude of other talented, hard-working people who normally would be setting up for weekend events on a Friday instead are rolling their road cases to Center City and marching around City Hall to raise awareness about the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on their industry and call on elected officials to extend assistance and other benefits to those in it.
The event industry is a powerful contributor to the American economy, supporting more than 12 million jobs and delivering over $1.3 trillion in direct and indirect economic impact in the U.S., and more than $1 trillion in direct spending globally. Live events brought Philadelphia over $10 billion in 2019.
With all large public events in Philadelphia cancelled through February 2021, thousands of gig workers, independent contractors, and businesses who make up the live events industry are likely to be the last to return to work.
“We are being devastated by COVID,” says Ronnie Anderson, a Philadelphia-area event planner and one of the organizers of Friday’s rally. “Before COVID, the Philadelphia area was poised for another record setting year of events—concerts, citywide conferences, conventions, trade shows, galas, festivals, sports, performances, fundraisers, and special events of all kinds. Now at least one-third of all event companies are facing bankruptcy or may be forced to shut their doors forever. Our highly skilled workforce will largely have to pivot into other industries to get by.”
Before COVID, more than 584,000 people in Pennsylvania were employed in the event industry. Well over half of them—including stagehands, sound techs, lighting designers, drivers and transportation companies, tour managers, logistics specialists, event planners and producers, caterers, florists, hoteliers, A/V companies and crews, ticket-takers, musicians and performers, DJs and bands, photographers and videographers, venue managers, travel companies—have been out of work since March. Many of these workers are 1099 freelance independent contractors and pay for their own health insurance benefits out of pocket.
The rally was organized by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Live Events Coalition, a nationwide advocacy group created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the live events industry. The LEC currently represents over 474,000 petition signers, 21,000 Facebook community members, and 22 chapters nationwide.
LEC is calling on government representatives to provide vital assistance including:
- Extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA
- Updated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- Improved Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
- Option to Reapply to PPP and EIDL
- Eased Credit Restrictions
The Live Events Coalition has also started a social media campaign, encouraging its ranks to post images of past favorite events with the hashtag #WishIWasThere.
Originally published 24th July 2020 by Whyy. Source: https://whyy.org/articles/out-of-work-for-months-philly-event-staff-rally-for-more-federal-aid/