In the last month, there have been live events being organized in different parts of the country. However, they aren’t your normal mass gathering events meant to entertain a specific audience. Instead, no one is in attendance; organized by the Live Events Coalition, this is to raise awareness of those who work in the “invisible” industry.
On August 5, on the National Mall in Washington D.C., one of these events took place. Filled with empty chairs and tables, not a single person attended the event; this was completely intentional. The Live Events Coalition, a nonprofit organization created in response to COVID-19, hosted an “Empty Event” purposely in view of the U.S. Capitol.
The organization aims to bring awareness to those working behind-the-scenes of events that are currently struggling during the current pandemic. These events have already taken place in the middle of Times Square in New York and Dallas, Texas. Nancy Shaffer, the newly elected president of the coalition’s board, has shared that these events are “to showcase and remind people that [an event] doesn’t magically appear. That there are these extremely talented and highly skilled and trained professionals that build this.”
The “Empty Events” symbolize the work that many unrecognized workers do for each event that takes place. Overall, they are meant to give these struggling professionals a voice during the current pandemic.
The entertainment industry is currently facing a financial impact due to COVID-19. Due to the prohibition of mass gatherings and forced cancelations countrywide, the industry faces an 80% revenue loss. In addition, those who rely on events to bring them income are struggling to find work during this difficult time.
Live Events Coalition Efforts
The Live Events Coalition has launched a hashtag campaign called #WishIWasThere. With the hashtag, invisible workers are encouraged to post a photo and explain how they are struggling financially due to a lack of events. In addition, they are asked to tag their representatives in Congress.
The organization is currently advocating for Congress to update and improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury and Disaster Loans (EIDL). They are also fighting for small businesses to be allowed to reapply for these programs. Lastly, they call for easier access to SBA7(a) and an updated and improved Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.