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US concert biz offers skills and staff for vaccinations

The major American promoters, venue operators and industry associations have formally offered their venues, staff and expertise towards the United States’ national Covid-19 vaccination effort.

In a letter to new US president Joe Biden (pictured), Live Nation, AEG Presents, Oak View Group, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and others pledge their resources towards the vaccination programme – saying the live industry, whose venues are empty and staff furloughed, is in a “unique position to help”.

Staff are “eager to help out and get back to work”, adds the letter, which is also addressed to Norris Cochran, the acting secretary of health and human services; Dr Rochelle Walensky, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Contro; Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease’s services division; and Bechara Choucair, the White House’s vaccinations coordinator.

“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,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation. “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.”

Dayna Frank, CEO of First Avenue Productions and president of NIVA, adds: “Since the pandemic shuttered our industry almost a year ago, our buildings and our co-workers have been paused, unutilised and struggling. These vaccines are our best chance at putting Covid-19 behind us, and our experiences organising 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.”

“We are the best-prepared and most qualified industry to support the vaccination effort and get this country on the road to recovery”

Other organisations offering their help are the International Association of Venue Managers; lighting company Bandit Lites; #WeMakeEvents North America; the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; theatre industry association Broadway League; the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO); and musical instrument trade body NAMM.

Live venues are already playing a key role in the immunisation process internationally, with concert halls, arena and stadia, and convention and conference centres offering their services as mass-vaccination sites.

Venues are, according to a statement from the group, perfectly suited to doubling as vaccination centres, given that they are designed for queueing and crowd control, located near parking or public transport and have wide, clear interiors, as well as regulated/ticketed entrances and exits.

“The entire live event industry has stood still since March, 2020. We all stand united now, ready to assist in the safe, rapid delivery of the vaccine from a people-moving perspective,” says Bandit Lites chair Michael T. Strickland.

Agent Wayne Forte, president of Entourage Talent Associates and member of NITO’s executive committee, comments: “We are here to help. In fact, many venues are already working on the state and local level to implement vaccine programmes. Our industry owns, leases and/or has access to thousands of venues throughout America, most that are under mandated closures and sitting empty. Event venues make ideal community vaccination sites.”


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