Request US Federal Action for Devastated Live Events Industry
The United States’ Live Events Industry – composed of more than 12 million workers and contributing roughly $1 trillion to the US economy – has been completely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the necessary shutdown of our operations. We want you to know who we are, how we are different, and how we’ve been adversely impacted; not only to date but also for the foreseeable future. Simply put, we need additional relief. With expected industry revenue loss between 60% to 80%, many businesses are facing permanent closure, and we’ve furloughed on average 85% of our workforce. This would be catastrophic to our country’s economy.
Given this reality, we are seeking assistance from our government in order to keep our doors open and our wages and bills paid. Without relief, we will have no businesses to return to, and our workers will remain impacted for years to come. We are asking for relief in these key areas to help keep our industry alive:
- An updated and improved PPP program
- An updated and improved EIDL program
- The ability for businesses who have already received PPP and EIDL to reapply based on need
- Easier access to SBA 7A funding
- An updated and improved PUA program
Who we are, and how we’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
We were the first industry to shut down, and we will by far be the last to reopen.
We are an important but largely unrecognized part of a much bigger spectrum of interdependent industries: Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, and Food & Beverage.
Our industry is composed of a vast variety of businesses that provide event venues, planning and design services, catering, audio-visual, entertainment, rentals, décor, tents and stages… and so much more.
We serve corporate meetings, trade shows, and conferences. We serve concerts, festivals, and fairs. We serve weddings, fundraisers, and holiday parties. And we even serve sporting events, branding events, and political events.
The Live Events Industry is a part of life for nearly every American, but almost no one knows it, and here’s why: Our paramount mission is to create a positive experience for our attendees and audience members, without bringing attention to ourselves. We truly work in the background. It’s our job. It is this “invisibility,” intended as it may be, that my industry colleagues and I seek to erase today.
We are a proud bunch, here in the Live Events world; inventive, self-sufficient, and scrappy. We are the (mostly small) businesses that help the big corporations sell. We help small towns and charities raise funds and awareness. We help arts and entertainment opportunities flourish, and we help everyday Americans celebrate some of the best days of their lives. Our businesses have been successful as well; researchers had us slated for as much as a 9% growth year in 2020.
But COVID-19 has put a sudden and abrupt halt to all of this. The total shutdown means that our industry has been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Unfortunately, our plight goes even deeper than other hard-hit industries. No to-go orders. No curbside pickups. No mail-order. And we’re not just out of work for a few weeks… the majority of the this country’s Live Events Businesses have seen 90% or higher cancellation of bookings for March through September 2020, and it is likely that this trend won’t significantly change (even with partial reopening) until months after there is a cure or well-distributed vaccine for COVID-19.
To be sure, we are proud to have “stood down” on behalf of the greater good of the public’s health and well-being. And as I said, we are inventive and determined. Honestly, nothing short of a pandemic could have stopped us.
But if we can’t hang on, we lose everything.
What does “Help” look like to our industry?
First, on behalf of all of us, let me say THANK YOU for your leadership, in all that Congress has accomplished so far. These are truly unprecedented times we are living in, and we recognize that the dynamics you must navigate are incredibly challenging as the pandemic’s impacts evolve. Today, we have a clearer picture than we’ve had in the past four months as to what it will take from our leaders in order to keep our industry from failing entirely.
We would never come to you in search of a “handout” if we didn’t truly believe that the failure of our industry and the domino effect this will create for the American economy was of critical importance… and is beginning to happen right now.
We fully recognize that Congress won’t be able to “make us whole.” Instead, what we are asking for is something that will keep an entire group of industries from collapsing: We need assistance that will help us “bridge” our disproportionately impacted businesses until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, and we are allowed to fully return to work.
To this end, we respectfully ask you to enact additional legislative relief along these lines:
• The option to reapply for an updated PPP or other similar forgivable loan program. Forgivable loan programs shouldn’t be tied to a specific date for phase out but to a period of time of at least 90 days following the complete reopening of all Live Events, which of course will follow the release and wide availability of an effective vaccine for COVID-19. Amounts granted should be scaled to revenue losses on a quarterly basis, comparing the current quarter to the same quarter in 2019. These loans should be able to be used for a combination of payroll costs, commercial leases or mortgages, commercial vehicle leases, utilities, insurance, and other fixed costs.
• An improved SBA EIDL program, with the same existing 30-year repayment period, at a favorable interest rate of 3.5% or less, with an initial 12-month payment-and-interest forbearance period which would commence 90 days following our state’s full reopening, and loan amounts that are adjusted to suit our actual financial needs after our “forgivable” loan program options have been maximized.
• The option for businesses to obtain the above updated PPP and EIDL loans, even if they have already received these loans in the original rollout of the CARES Act. We would be required to demonstrate financial need from quarter to quarter.
• An easing of credit restrictions by the SBA on traditional consolidation loan programs, such as 7A loans, and others. Because of our industry’s current mandated shutdown, business owners in our industry have nowhere near enough current income to allow us to qualify for these loans as currently administered.
• A phased or proportioned extension of PUA programs, so that the owners of businesses still impacted by the pandemic can continue to support their families, and so that workers who still can’t return due to lack of work because of the shut down (or even with “phased reopening”) can still support themselves. Having a workforce that is available and ready to return as reopening happens will be critical.
Live Events are part of a bigger ecosystem
It is important to remember that Live Events are a critical piece of, and work in partnership with, the Travel and Tourism, Hospitality, and Food & Beverage Industries. Together, these industries account for nearly $2.4 trillion of the US economy.
Legislative relief that supports the Live Events Industry will serve as its own multiplier stimulus package, because funds will be used to rekindle an important economic sector and its many connected companies and workers, which then will turn the gears of the broader economy. Every events industry recovery dollar will lead to additional spending on travel, hotels, and restaurants; supporting other “main street” merchants decimated by COVID-19.
Our success and very existence in the Live Events world are inexorably linked to Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, and Food & Beverage. And so many local festivals which inject much-needed economic stimulus into our rural areas, as well as our state’s major population centers.
On behalf of the 12 million live event workers depending on your leadership during this unprecedented time, we thank you for your consideration, and we wish you all the best during these challenging days.
Live Events Coalition Supporter: