US live sector adopts #WeMakeEvents campaign
North America is adopting the UK-born initiative #WeMakeEvents with a day of action that will see 1,500 venues lit in red to symbolise the live event industry’s red alert.
The call-to-arms, which will take place on 1 September, has been organised in the hope that the US government will take notice and provide the appropriate support by way of relief funding and necessary legislation.
“Live events have been completely halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads a statement from #WeMakeEvents, North America.
“Because our business is rooted in large group gatherings, we were one of the first industries to be completely shut down (early March) and will be one of the last to return to any operations (well into 2021), let alone restore former prosperity (likely not until 2022 or beyond).
“The live event industry in North America directly employs more than 12 million people and includes hundreds of thousands of businesses with a combined economic impact of over US$1 trillion. This likely includes someone you know, are close to, or it may even include you. If we do not receive government assistance the live events industry will literally collapse, including all of the people involved.”
The campaign sees #WeMakeEvents partner with ExtendPUA.org, which is requesting a continuation and expansion of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which supplements earnings per week for those on unemployment and opens up unemployment to 1099 workers.
The campaign comes after a survey conducted by National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a new alliance of US grassroots music venues, found that 90% of its members said that if the shutdowns lasted six months or more with no federal help, they would never reopen.
“We were one of the first industries to be shut down and will be one of the last to return, let alone restore former prosperity”
In April, NIVA wrote to members of the US Congress to ask for immediate assistance for a sector it says is facing an existential crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the alliance is lobbying to push two bills through Congress before the end of August in order to keep independent venues nationwide from permanently closing.
The #SaveOurStagesAct is a new $10 billion grant program for live venue operators, promoters, producers, and talent representatives provides grants of either 45% of gross revenue from 2019 or $12 million (whichever is less), as well as supplemental grants of up to half the original grant if the entity is still experiencing 80%+ revenue loss as of Dec. 1, 2020.
The grants can be used for payroll and benefits, rent, utilities, mortgage interest payments, interest payments, insurance, personal protective equipment (PPE), existing loans, payments to 1099 employees, and other ordinary and necessary business expenses.
The #RestartAct (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery) is a new loan program that provides funding for six months of payroll, benefits, fixed operating expenses, PPE, accounts payable, and other ordinary and necessary business expenses, with loan amounts of either 45% of gross revenue from 2019 or $12 million (whichever is less).
It features partial loan forgiveness based on losses in revenue, a seven-year loan term, and no principal payments for the first two years. The bill also extends the covered period for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from eight weeks to 16 weeks. The Restart Act is currently moving through congress but has stalled.
NIVA is also lobbying for tax relief and additional unemployment insurance for employees of shuttered businesses.
Currently, NIVA has nearly 2,000 charter members in all 50 states, including 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue in Minneapolis, Chicago Independent Venue League, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee, Red River Cultural District in Austin, and Exit/In in Nashville.
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