Staging companies are no strangers to quick planning, rescheduling of events, and nimble business plans in the face of unforeseen events. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the gulf coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, has brought out the best in these businesses as they respond to their employees' and clients' needs in the aftermath of this unprecedented domestic disaster.
At least one staging company, Colortone Staging & Rentals, with offices in Cleveland and Salt Lake City, has set up a special hotline (888-AVRESCUE) to help show organizers and meeting planners relocate events displaced by Hurricane Katrina and is donating to the American Red Cross relief fund 10 percent of revenues for any event it relocates or reschedules to a new venue in the continental United States.
Companies and associations that must move their events can contact the task force for priority arrangements to select new venues and arrange for all services and rentals for that cityat competitive prices.
"Our hearts go out to the people of New Orleans and the businesses affected by this tragedy. There are scores of events planned for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast during the convention season," said Bob Leon, President of Colortone. "This includes events that Colortone is scheduled to work. We are moving those events. We have tojust like any show organizer and meeting planner. And we are here to help."
Patty McGoldrick, of Boston-based Immediate Connections, Inc., frequently staffs events in New Orleans. "We are members of ICIA and our Manager and his family from New Orleans will be relocated to our Orlando office in Florida. Our business is closed due to lack of work and workers. Clients and technicians can contact our Boston office at 888.783.1599 for information and status of work and jobs in other cities. We have business in Orlando, D.C. and Boston on a temporary basis. What we need is hotel rooms in these areas for our technicians to stay once we get them work and get them to these cities." (email@example.com)
Due to the catastrophic effects of Katrina, Creative Presentation's home office in New Orleans is closed, but the company's office in Lafayette, Louisiana, has become the new headquarters. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Freeman and AVW-TELAV have now accounted for all 250-plus full-time and regular part-time New Orleans employees. They are all safe, and have made short-term housing arrangements, many with family, friends and fellow employees. Many have lost their homes and belongings, and many do not yet know what may be left.
Initial reports on Freeman and AVW-TELAV's three main warehouses, which total over 260,000 square feet, indicate that, while not under flood water, they did sustain some initial damage from the hurricane winds and rain. The company's key operations staff was able to make initial inspections, secure the facilities, and will return as soon as allowed to make further assessments and remove as much exhibitor material and company-owned equipment as possible. They also still have equipment remaining at the New Orleans Convention Center, since they expedited move-out of exhibitor materials on the EMS Expo show before the storm, leaving their own equipment behind.
Don Freeman, chairman and CEO, said the company is responding on several fronts where it has identified personnel in need.
"We have established a central job placement operation for our New Orleans displaced employees, and are in the process of relocating them to various Freeman and AVW-TELAV offices around the country as soon as they are able," Freeman explained. "This effort will give them the ability to return to some stability for their families, enabling their children to enroll in school, and providing them with stable income, since it appears many may not be able to return to the New Orleans area in the near future.
"We have contacted all the event management and exhibiting clients who were impacted by the New Orleans disaster, working closely with them as they make decisions on the rescheduling of events, as well as the status of their exhibit materials. We also have provided assistance to the main evacuation centers in Texas locations, and are in contact with those show managers who may have to move events due to the temporary use of convention facilities as evacuation sites."
Freeman and AVW-TELAV staff have been in touch with as many New Orleans-bound clients as possible. Those who have questions or need information about their events should contact Freeman Customer Support Center: 888.508.5054; or AVW-TELAV Exhibitor Services: 214.623.1361
Even as recovery and relief efforts are underway, people throughout the U.S. are both celebrating the musical heritage of New Orleans, and raising money with concerts and events. Production Resources Group (PRG) of Los Angeles, provided lighting equipment and services from multiple PRG locations to various telethons aired recently to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast," was simulcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB. Viewers in nearly 100 countries were able to tune in all broadcast networks and multiple cable television stations during primetime viewing. Executive produced by Joel Gallen who also produced the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon in September 2001, the star studded event's lighting was designed by Simon Miles in Los Angeles and Alan Adelman in New York.
"PRG was called upon with a moment's noticein some cases just hoursto service these shows," noted Susan Tesh, VP of sales, in Los Angeles.
Bringing together more than 50 of the biggest musical acts in the world within days for MTV's "ReAct Now: Music and Relief," PRG provided lighting at studios in Los Angeles and Nashville. Along with the studio live performances, MTV included taped performances from live concerts currently on tour throughout the U.S. Featuring The Rolling Stones, U2, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and Elton John, PRG is also providing lighting equipment and services on these high profile tours.
Many manufacturers are joining the effort to assist. Mark Terry, president of the Harman Pro Group, told participants in the conference call that "Harman is raising money for relief, just as after the tsunami in Asia; and we are extending deadlines on accounts receivable from our dealers in the Gulf area that were directly affected." Terry encouraged other manufacturers to assist in any way they can.
Staging companies are encouraged to contact Rental & Staging Systems executive editor David Keene with news about their companies needs, or offers of assistance.