COVID, Competition, and Community

Red Alert RESTART Oklahoma City
(Image credit: Cory's Audio Visual)

Catastrophic. That’s the only way I know how to describe what has happened to the live events industry. This shutdown has had an effect much larger than just the people you see on the stages across the country. From audio visual companies, decorators, caterers, event planners, florists, and even custodial staff, the shut down of these events has generated widespread fear, frustration, and an unknown future.

However, on September 1, 2020, I saw a community of those professionals come together to work towards a brighter future and the momentum keeps going. The goal of the Red Alert, RESTART campaign was to light up iconic event venues red to show support for our brothers and sisters in the events business and their current struggles. In Oklahoma City, some of the largest and long standing venues were emblazoned with a beautiful red. The RESTART program is a federal aid package that is currently in the US legislature trying to get through committees to help the people working in the events and entertainment industries, but that's not what I’m here to talk about.

What I saw that day were teams of fierce business competitors that put aside their company colors and worked together, as one community. I saw the people, not just the companies, but the people in these professions who are also struggling. I saw rivals working together and not caring about whose name came first, or who could market their work for more business. This was about all of them equally. 

Shining above all that is that the efforts generated attention and goodwill for the cause, and new friendships were built across the board. This industry truly became one force that night. This has ultimately led to more learning and sharing to lift up the industry as a whole.

Only time will tell if the RESTART Act gets through, but without a doubt, this community benefited from the work done that night.

What can we all learn from this? Maybe the lesson is that it took a global pandemic for neighbors in our own city to realize that they aren’t that different. Maybe it is that working together across the aisles can benefit not only ourselves, but our community as a whole. Either way, those lessons are a nice benefit in a difficult year.

Brad Poarch

Brad Poarch grew up playing in numerous bands before he found himself behind the audio console. When people started paying him in cash instead of beer, he knew he had found his career! As a member of the Cory family, Poarch joined the third-generation, family-owned Cory's Audio Visual in 2002 and ran the live events and rental division before taking the reigns as CEO in 2012 to lead Oklahoma's most experienced audio visual team. He is a three-time awarded Most Admired CEO by The Journal Record and a father of two.