Live entertainment giants call for US federal aid
A coalition of some the country’s leading promoters, show producers and venue managers have written to the US federal government to request an aid package specifically for the live entertainment business.
According to Billboard in the US, which has seen a copy of the letter, the 19 signatories – which include the likes of Live Nation, AEG, Feld Entertainment and arena operator VenuWorks – are asking for the Paycheck Protection Program [sic] to be extended to entertainment companies with 500 or fewer employees, as well loans for medium-sized businesses under existing programmes including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Main Street Lending scheme.
“Our businesses were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” reads the letter, dated April 2020, which is also signed by the Broadway League, Spectra Venue Management and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).
“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.”
“Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry”
The situation is particularly urgent given that many business are struggling to obtain pay-outs from insurance claims for loss of earnings – a phenomenon also being experienced by their colleagues in France and the UK. “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.
Insurers and brokers, in partnership with Congress, must therefore establish ‘business recovery fund’ for the entertainment industry, it continues, “modelled 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”.
The signatories are also requesting that authorities such as 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”. Companies that comply with these guidelines “should receive protection from Covid-19-related lawsuits,” they add.
The group is the second live entertainment association to lobby the US Congress for financial assistance, following the newly formed National Independent Venue Association earlier this month.
VenuWorks launches booking agency
VenuWorks, an Iowa-based venue management firm whose properties include arenas and theatres across the US, has announced the launch of an in-house booking agency, VenuWorks Agency.
Based at the company’s headquarters in Ames, Iowa, with an additional office in New York, the boutique VenuWorks Agency will develop touring strategies for its represented acts in collaboration with VenuWorks’ portfolio of venues, which include Ford Center (11,000-cap.) in Evansville, Indiana, Toyota Center (7,200-cap.) in Kennewick, Washington, US Cellular Center (9,022-cap.) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Grossinger Motors Arena (8,000-cap.) in Bloomington, Illinois.
The agency’s first signings are Northern Irish country music star Nathan Carter, Irish Celtic pop singer Chloë Agnew, and Eoin Colfer and Liam Bates’s Christmas show, Noël: The Musical.
Principal agents, meanwhile, are VenuWorks founder/CEO Steve Peters, Riverdance star and Emmy-nominated producer Michael Londra, and public television specialist Jean Clancy.
In a statement, the company describes VenuWorks Agency’s mission: “The company’s main focus will be on helping the artists it represents develop and grow their careers on a national and international stage, while working hand in hand with presenters to provide comprehensive marketing support for each show they contract.”