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COVID-19’s Impact on Live Events Industry

COVID-19 and Live Events
(Image credit: Future)

These past few weeks, we’ve been overwhelmed with COVID-19 news … and understandably as this pandemic is a "first” for us in this lifetime. 

For many of us, we’ve finally gotten our home office set up, been on 10-plus Zoom calls this week, and possibly even attended a web-based happy hour or two. 

Many AV professionals may have been furloughed, laid off, or had their hours drastically cut. For the live events community, their lives have come to a screeching halt. 

“COVID-19 had a swift effect on all of us in live events. We all went from hearing a couple of news reports to having our entire events schedule erased in a matter of a few days during the busiest season of our year,” said Abby Wolfe, director of marketing and communications at Cory’s Audio Visual. 

“At this point, live in-person events around the globe are on hold, with InfoComm 2020 as just the latest among them to be cancelled," added Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence at AVIXA. "As a result, it is no surprise that just about all live events companies we survey or interact with have said their revenues have been cut and many are reducing staff costs as a way of weathering the storm." 

Having Hope

While the current state we are in may feel like walking through a cloud, overwhelmed with the unknown, but there is a certain beauty in this darkness. 

“The sense of community within the live space that this tragedy has brought forward, the sense that we need to help take care of our own received from so many while articulating their own struggles is overwhelming, powerful, and an impactful call to action,” said Scott Carroll, executive VP and program director, Take1 Insurance.

[Roadie Rescue Campaign Formed to Benefit Live Event Workers Displaced by Coronavirus Cancellations]

Through the current struggles, we’ve seen inspiring stories coming from the live events space—the use of providing rigging for relief hospitals and the use of machinery to create masks for first responders and medical staff to name a few.

“It is apparent that many companies are re-tooling and re-creating themselves to provide much needed emergency supplies, develop learning opportunities, and provide connection," said founder and president of the Event Safety Alliance, Jim Digby. "This single fact demonstrates the industry's great ability to problem solve, adapt and care for each other.” 

Adapt and Evolve

One of the biggest changes these past few weeks has been the live events industry’s ability to adapt and evolve for new opportunities and services. 

“Live events as a whole have an opportunity now to try more virtual options for engaging with audiences," said AVIXA's Wargo. "While this doesn’t directly impact the traditional rental and staging side of the business, it is a way for event managers and producers to continue operations. We are likely to see, and already are seeing, some creative implementations of the virtual event format during this period and possibly into the long-term.” 

“There is a tremendous shift toward online content, allowing people to stay connected, attain professional growth opportunities, and build new community,” Digby added. 

Turning Crisis into Compassion

There is an outpouring of support and resources for displaced freelance event technicians and staff available, in addition to the many ways AV professionals can assist either monetarily, sharing resources on social networks, and telling industry friends and colleagues. 

The Roadie Rescue Campaign was formed to benefit live event industry hourly workers displaced by coronavirus cancellations. The goal of the campaign is to reach out to entertainment industry businesses and live entertainment fans worldwide to raise $250,000 indirect contributions to the Roadie Relief GoFundMe campaign that will then be distributed to eligible freelance professionals through MusiCares. Visit roadierescue.com for additional info. 

This message to the live events community from AVIXA offers resources like webinar opportunities for continued learning, government agency links for relief, and more.  In addition, the association has also opened its online training content for free to everyone who would like access until June 12, 2020. Now’s the time to study for that CTS exam or obtain RU credits!

AVLiveAid, created by Kevin Maltby, is an online resource to share with the community. From free online trainings and government petitions to a freelancer portal and GoFundMe links, AVLiveAid is a fantastic resource for live events professionals.

Want to know one of the simplest ways you can help our community? Pick up the phone and send a call or text. Reach out and check-in. Our people are tired, overwhelmed, and anxious. Human connection is powerful and such a simple act can make a huge difference to someone. 

We’ll get through this. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your fellow #AVTweeps if you’re looking for help, a resource, or just want to chat. We’re in this together. The light is coming. 

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