Dear [title] [last name],
On behalf of Live Events Coalition and the California Events Coalition, we wanted to take a moment to re-familiarize you with our industry – an industry that touches and impacts every single American, though most may not even realize it. In addition to Live Event and performance venues, most of our businesses and workers are the “behind the scenes’ professionals who make all Live Events “go.” We are the service providers that include event venues, planners, designers, caterers, AV, Lighting, DJs, rentals, tents, floral, décor, staging, ticketing, security…and so many more. Our segment of the industry is comprised primarily of small businesses, which before COVID-19, employed nearly 12 million Americans across all 50 states and served as a major economic engine.
Unfortunately, this letter comes at a very dark time for our industry, as we’ve been shuttered or severely restricted from operating since late March 2020. To be clear, it has not just been performance venues and talent agencies that have been closed. In fact, the group of industry businesses that will benefit from the recently passed “Shuttered Venue Operator Grant” program only represent about 8% of our overall industry. Meanwhile, most of the rest of our businesses and workers that support the Live Performance sector–as well as other sectors such as Celebrations, Corporate Events, Fairs and Festivals, Fundraisers and Political Events–are also suffering in the same way.
Although the recent COVID relief legislation “PPP-2” will serve as much-needed temporary respite for many businesses, it unfortunately is not a panacea for our industry, because its timeline is shorter than what our “shuttered” status will ultimately be. Additionally, its forgiveness guidelines frequently don’t match our business’s operating realities. For instance, much like a live performance venue, if you own an asset-based events business (such as rental venues, lighting, scenery, AV, or event equipment rentals), the real operating expense is in the building you occupy, or the equipment you make payments on every month; with payroll generally being much smaller.
We are confident that, with targeted assistance from Congress, our industry can fight back to full strength –restoring millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues – once all state’s gathering restrictions are lifted. Please know that even after reopening, it will take months for bookings to happen, productions to be planned, invitations to be sent or tickets to be sold. Not to mention the importance of the American consumer’s confidence having to also be restored so that they’ll gather once again. Only then will our industry return to pre-pandemic success levels. Given this reality, we respectfully request that Congress urgently consider these additional and critical measures:
· A “Shuttered Business Recovery Grant” program, similar or equal to the “Shuttered Venue Operator Grant” program, to help after “PPP-2” funds have been exhausted, providing a financial bridge until our businesses and workers can reopen and normalize operations.
o Grants should be tied to a defined revenue loss threshold to assist the entities that are hardest hit by COVID-19 closures.
o Grant amounts should be tied to the entity’s revenues from 2019.
o For entities who have already received a second-draw PPP loan, the forgiven PPP amount would be subtracted from the total Shuttered Business Grant amount to be rewarded.
· It is critical to our workers and our small business owners that another extension of PUA, PEUC and FPUC, at least through Q3 of 2021, be enacted.
We are not asking for a handout. We need bridge to avoid a major segment of the American economy from falling through the cracks. Targeted relief will prevent our entire industry from collapsing. We look forward to working together with you as Congress considers forthcoming legislative proposals necessary to protect American workers and stimulate the U.S. economy. Thank you for service during this critical time for our country.