In the past six months, our world has been flipped upside down. Almost every industry in the world has been affected by the global pandemic, with very few impacted more than the live events industry. While we all know what goes on behind the scenes to bring conferences, meetings, brand activations, and all other special events to life, sometimes it can feel like ours has been the forgotten industry.

In an effort to bring awareness to the impact of COVID-19 on our industry, the Live Events Coalition has been hosting events in different cities around the country. Event industry volunteers come together to put up all the parts and pieces of a traditional event: event technology and décor, tables, chairs, stages, trailers, LED screens, and other tiny details that go into a successful event. The only catch? No one attends.

These “Empty Events” are designed to bring attention to the 12 million people left unemployed in the events industry due to the pandemic. Nancy Shaffer, CEO and Owner of BRAVO! Events, and the Live Events Coalition’s newly elected president, was quoted in BizBash as saying these events are meant to “showcase and remind people that [an event] doesn’t magically appear.” Empty Events have taken place across the country in cities like New York, Dallas and San Diego. Hargrove was proud to co-sponsor the Empty Event in Washington, D.C.

As a friend and client to Hargrove, Nancy Shaffer reached out for support supplying the oversized stage banners and graphics, which will travel to the other Empty Events in future demonstrations. Normally, an event like this on the National Mall would take weeks or months to prepare. For this event, we were given three days. An event of this size and scale required additional help, and dozens of vendors in the live events industry in the D.C. area came together to make it happen. While some volunteers were partners, others were even local competitors.  But an event like this is not about prior competition; it’s about advocating for live events and bringing much-needed attention to our industry, together.

The Empty Event in D.C. featured 48 tables, each representing 250,000 of the 12 million unemployed event professionals. It took place in direct view of Capitol Hill, showing Congress that our industry needs help. The Live Events Coalition is lobbying for Congress to update and improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); to update and improve the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program; to allow businesses that have already received PPP and EIDL assistance to reapply based on need; easier access to SBA 7(a) funding; and to update and improve the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

To learn more about the Live Events Coalition and how you can get involved, click here. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support and advocate for our “invisible industry.”

Rob Nicynski
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