The medical consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been severe. Our sympathies go out to ILDA Members, laserists, family, friends, and all persons suffering from this.
There have also been serious economic consequences. In our industry, most laser shows have been shut down. Sales of lasershow-related equipment have evaporated. This is very distressing.
We hope that with assistance from governments and others that we can "weather the storm" until it is safe to go back to work and normal social life.
There are a plethora of news stories and resources for individuals and for businesses. Below are some resources that may be especially helpful for ILDA Members and laserists; for example, from organizations in related entertainment industries.
If you have other resources which may be relevant for those in the entertainment industry, please contact us with the links so we can add them.
ILDA Members can hopefully work with fellow Live Event professionals to help speed up the COVID-19 vaccine delivery. If you can help, visit the COV-AID Volunteer Signup form webpage.
Details are in a 6-page PDF document you can download. Below for easy reference are pages 2 and 3 which summarize the key points.
In the spirit of Live Aid and Farm Aid, the Live Event Industry is prepared to offer their services, in the form of "COV-AID", in order to assist with increasing the speed and efficiency of vaccine inoculations.
The Live Event Industry is one of the best prepared, best equipped, most experienced industries in the world to manage and control large crowds in a rapid fashion. Moving people swiftly and safely is one of the cornerstones of the foundation of the Live Event Industry.
With that in mind, here are the key points for you to focus on:
The September 2 2020 #RedAlertRESTART event raised awareness by lighting buildings and structures red, in support of the RESTART Act. Check out this PDF showing photos and videos from the event, and results such as press and social media attention.
Despite the success of this attention, some laserists and event professionals are frustrated by the seemingly-endless requests to contact legislators: "When will they do something?"
But as Michael Strickland notes in his Sept 18 letter below, it is essential to keep the pressure up. Slowly it is working. He notes similarities to events, where we keep persevering in the face of obstacles, to Get The Event Done Right.
Take a look at his letter, then go to the National Independent Talent Organization "Take Action" webpage where you can easily contact your representatives via online forms.
As this week comes to an end please know we are still in the game. Attached are the phenomenal results from our #RedAlertRESTART campaign. The numbers are from the night of the event. They are far larger now. We succeeded at a very high level thanks to all of you.
Several of you let me know you are simply worn out on the constant requests to contact Senators and representatives. I understand the emotion.
However, we are the Live Event Industry.
Unlike any other industry in the world, the show must go on tonight at 8 PM.
And it will.
We don’t miss shows.
No other industry works to this level or this standard.
Just as we deliver millions of events globally, day after day, year in and year out, so we must deliver this event.
Think of this as the toughest job you have ever done.The challenges have been constant and demanding. But, there is still a show at 8 PM.
We will deliver.
So….Answer every call to action.
Share the call to actions with everyone you know.
Reach out personally to every legislator you know.
Call, text, e-mail, post on social media.
It all matters!
This leads us to where we sit. The statement has been made in last few days that the politicians simply do not care about us. You are right. For the most part, they do not. What they do care about is reelection, as I have shared with you from the start. Fear of being voted out of office is the thing that motivates all politicians.
That leads us to why you cannot give up. You cannot stop contacting the politicians. They react when a huge amount of people seem to be for or against something. We are that huge amount of people for RESTART, but we are only effective if all of you keep answering the call to actions. Please do not think you will make politicians care about us. You will only make them fear losing their office.
There will be another call to action next week [Sept. 21-25].
The call to action this week gained two Senators and 6 Representatives! We succeeded. We have 57 Senators and 153 Representatives. More are coming. You did that.
Thursday night Representative Jamie Herrera Beutler from Washington filed a Special Discharge Petition. This petition is to force a House vote on an extension of the original PPP program for a second round. This would provide everyone that received round one a second round, as long as you suffered a 25% or greater loss of revenue. It will require 218 votes to pass the House, a simple majority.
The purpose is to take control away from the leaders of the House and put control completely in the hands of the House members. This is usually viewed as a political move to force leadership to act on the issue at hand.
In this situation, the members of the House seem to wish to assure that Congress does, before the end of September, act to provide additional PPP money to the struggling small businesses. There are some who believe this is more an effort to get leadership to take action on the larger relief bill. Only a handful of these actions have resulted in success.
Some legislators do not actually want it to go to a vote, as it puts them “on the record” either for or against more PPP. Few want to be on the record against more PPP. If this does pass, it does not preclude a larger relief bill with RESTART language from being passed.
There are still a large number of people working to pass a larger relief bill, with the RESTART language in it. That is why you cannot stop contacting legislators. This could easily go on up to October 2.
The good news is that the majority of the House and Senate do want to pass a comprehensive relief bill. They are motivated by a desire to be reelected.
The President has publicly asked the Senate to spend more than $1.5 trillion dollars. There is wide bipartisan political will to create a $1.75 trillion dollar relief package.
At this moment the Speaker of the House controls the next move. Should the Speaker move from $2.2 trillion to $1.75 trillion, a bill will happen. Hopefully a version of RESTART will be in that bill. If the Speaker holds at $2.2 trillion, and the Senate holds at $1.75 trillion, then nothing will happen. From one point of view, the House Started at $3.4 trillion, the Senate started at $0, so $1.75 trillion is a 50/50 compromise.
No one knows what will happen for sure.
Again, the more pressure you put on Senators and Representatives with your e-mails and reach outs, the more pressure they put on leadership to act. The fact that a bipartisan Caucus proposed the $1.5 trillion dollar concept this week, coupled with the Special Discharge Petition, shows just how frustrated the members of Congress are with leadership.
Your mission is simple, keep up the pressure.
The show is at 8 PM.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over!
Thank you all and hang tough,
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
On August 25 2020, CNBC broadcast a 9-minute segment about how the live events industry has been affected by the pandemic shutdown. Appearing was Phil Ehart, drummer/manager of the band Kansas, and Michael T. Strickland of BanditLites.
Here is a YouTube video of the segment. You can also download a 90 MB version if the YouTube video goes missing.
If you're a U.S. ILDA Member, and want to do something constructive for yourself, your business and your employees, just below is a link that will take you only a minute to do.
We have been asking ILDA Member U.S. companies and individuals, plus the employees of the companies, to contact your congressional representatives. Each of you has one Representative from your district, and two Senators from your state.
It really helps to have your voice heard. Earlier this summer, the RESTART Act turned around after hundreds of letters from an initiative that included voices of live event professionals.
Go to the National Independent Talent Organization "Take Action" page https://nitolive.org/resources/take-action/.
On the "Details" first step, fill out your contact information including address. This way the app can determine who are your senators and representative.
On the "Messages" second step, use the pre-filled letter, or copy-and-paste the text below. In some ways, the exact message does not matter. The congressional office will simply be tallying the number of constituents who support RESTART.
After you click the Send Message button, you will receive a confirmation email from NITO, plus possible confirmations from your legislators as well.
I kindly request that you support and co-sponsor the RESTART Act.
I work in the Live Music and Event Industry, doing laser shows. Without live shows, this industry has been at zero income since March 13 and will be until well into 2021.
The complete lack of income has been and will continue to be destroying the people, the firms and the industry.
The original round of PPP was vital and appreciated but that was depleted long ago.
It is imperative that Congress provide vital funding to assure that the entirety of the Live Music and Event Industry survive.
This Act, or something like it, must pass as soon as possible, since most individuals and firms are long since out of money.
I would urge you to consider passing RESTART as a clean bill to save Americans and those who own Small Businesses.
I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration and support for the Live Music and Event Industry, and all such affected small businesses.
Thank you for everything you have done for our country, it is greatly appreciated.
Remember that you can ask others to send a message as well. Pass the NITO link along to friends, family, employees, business associates, even competitors. Use regular email for a personalized appeal and social media for a general request.
Also, if you should have some personal contacts to legislators (in or out of your area) or to their staffs or families, be sure to contact them personally. A call or email from a friend or associate can make more of an impact than 10,000 form letter emails.
If you have contacted your legislators on this issue, thank you — and keep contacting them each time there is a step forward (or backwards). This keeps the pressure on them to act.
CARES vs HEROES vs HEALS Acts: What's the Difference? Information sheet by Michael T. Strickland
NAMM Policy Webinar, July 30, 2020. This webinar reviewed pending federal COVID relief: HEROES and HEALS Acts, Education Stabilization Fund, and more. Presented by NAMM Public Affairs and Government Relations. It gives a good overview if you do not want to read the acts or supporting summaries.
The RESTART Act is a near-term fix for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for hardest-hit businesses. We have a one-sheet summary of the act, plus a list of supporting organizations.
Many of the items below are in the form of press releases or emails sent by Michael T. Strickland, who has done some of the deepest thinking and hardest work on how the coronavirus affects live events.
The Red Alert RESTART event will light up buildings in red, all across American on the evening of September 1. ILDA Members can help by using red lasers on their own, or any color lasers to draw attention to red buildings, on this night.
In the letters below are three ways you can help.
In addition to simply lighting structures, it is important to get the word out about why this is necessary. The letter also lists the media for you to contact and interact with. This is social media, conventional media like TV and newspapers, and contacting government officials so they can attend or at least be aware.
Helicopter view during the August 11 Red Alert event in London
The #RedAlertRESTART event will take place on Tuesday, September 1. This will allow the Live Event Industry to have the largest impact in both our local and national messaging.
As always, the strength in this, like everything we do, is in the huge numbers.
Each of us sits in our own market and indeed works there. Think national, work local.
There are many local initiatives that individuals within a market have enacted and are delivering. Each one has a local impact and makes a difference. Please continue to do everything that you are doing.
Make sure you document everything you do with photographs and submit them to #RedAlertRESTART, #WeMakeEvents, and #ExtendPUA.
You can help in three ways:
1. If you have a commercial or residential building that can be lit in RED (whether or not you have the equipment to do so).
2. If you have equipment and or services that you’re willing to offer for those that need it to facilitate.
3. Spread the word by forwarding this letter on to anyone that you know who can help.
If you can help, email us to let us know you want to help.
In your local markets please use all of your local media contacts to gain maximum local media coverage. Print, online and television is all needed.
Every participant should post as much information as its possible before, during and after the event. We are dependent on you to do this locally.
Nationally we will be communicating with both the Live Event media as well as national mainstream media. We need your photographs for maximum impact.
We have three media plays with this.
First is all of the publicity you generate locally leading up to the event. Engage and involve as many people within the industry, local government and local media.
Engage as many local governmental officials as is possible. Every community is a stakeholder in Live Events. When Live Events sit idle, so do venues, hotels, airlines, taxis, restaurants and other businesses. Tax revenues are depressed.
Each community suffers financially, spiritually and socially when there are no Live Events. For example, the two National Political Conventions that were done virtually have cost each of the two host cities $200 million dollars! The upcoming altered and muted college and football season losses will be in the billions. Concert losses in North America are projected in the billions of dollars.
And over 10 million people sit idle.
The second play is the night of the event during which we need as many local governmental and media people on hand as is possible.
This is where each of you locally use your personal contacts to gain the attention.
The third play will be a massive PR blitz after the event on a national basis.
If you have any national media contacts please share them with us. We will present large files of photographs from across North America and get them into the hands of media and governmental officials. We will also take this messaging to Congress.
#RedAlertRESTART will be our biggest voice thus far to make our Congresspeople and Senators aware of the size of our industry and that over 10 million people sit idle.
We will have iconic buildings across North America illuminated in RED September 1st screaming out our message.
Our goal is to be seen and heard, and we shall be.
As always, we are dependent on each of you, one at a time, to engage and involve at the highest level. No effort, no action, no thought is too small. TOGETHER WE WILL ROAR!
The response has been phenomenal and we have thousands of people engaged. This is a result of your efforts.
Thank you all for everything that you have done and will do. As always, please pass this message to as many people as you can.
Thank you and be safe,
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
We Make Events – North American Call to Action
RESTART Act – Legislative Push August 2020
To whom it may concern,
In this dire time, we, the entertainment community of North America, are asking for your support. Live events have been completely halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because our business is rooted in large group gatherings, we were one of the first industries to be completely shut down (early March) and will be one of the last to return to any operations (well into 2021), let alone restore former prosperity (likely not until 2022 or beyond).
The live event industry in North America directly employs millions of people and includes hundreds of thousands of businesses with a combined economic impact of over $300 billion USD. This likely includes someone you know, are close to, or it may even include you. If WE do not receive government assistance the live events industry will literally collapse, including all of the people involved.
We are asking for your support to help raise awareness in hopes that the government will provide the appropriate support by way of relief funding and necessary legislation. The RESTART Act is a bill that is currently moving through congress, but has stalled.
We’re organizing a widespread PR event by lighting up as many buildings in RED as possible and posting pictures and videos to social media and news outlets in hopes that this will help push the bill through.
We have also partnered with ExtendPUA.org and are requesting a continuation and expansion of the PUA, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and FPUC, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which supplement earnings per week for those on unemployment and open up unemployment to 1099 workers.
A similar event was held in the UK on Tuesday 8/11/2020 which was hugely successful and included 715 buildings/structures glowing in red.Below is a link to an aerial video showing downtown London that night as well as a really well done example:
We are asking all willing participants to light their building(s) exteriors in RED on Tuesday September 1, 2020 from 9p-12a in your local time zone and to post pictures or video using the hashtags #WeMakeEvents, #RedAlertRESTART, and #ExtendPUA.
You can help in three ways:
1. If you have a commercial or residential building that can be lit in RED (whether or not you
have the equipment to do so).
2. If you have equipment and or services that you’re willing to offer for those that need it to
3. Spread the word by forwarding this letter on to anyone that you know who can help.
Thank you in advance for your support and efforts. You may never truly understand the impact it brings.
The entertainment community of North America #WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART #ExtendPUA
Congressional negotiations have failed. While it is possible that an agreement can be reached, and Congress can be called back, legislators are not scheduled to return to Washington until September 14.
It is still useful to contact your legislators. But since negotiations are currently controlled by only four persons, legislators have little leverage at this point. The most they can do — which may be important — is to increase pressure to reach an agreement.
As the week closes, both the House and Senate are in August Break. They are not scheduled to return until September 14.
This does not necessarily mean there will not be a relief bill until then. The real negotiations are, and have been, between Pelosi, Schumer, Meadows and Mnuchin.
At this moment there seems to be two potential paths forward for a relief bill.
There is slow progress in Congress, which is scheduled to recess after Friday August 14.
But there is also pressure on Congress to reach a deal "to assist in their own reelections."
A chart shows the areas of agreement and disagreement.
There continues to be slow progress in Washington. Unofficial talks and political posturing is going on.
There are 435 House members that are all up for reelection, as well as 35 Senators, and none of them wish to break for August without a deal in place.
Thus, most of those people really want to get a deal in place to assist in their own reelections.
While the House in not in session, they can pass the bill remotely. The Senate is technically in session through Friday, but are on a 24 hour call notice to appear and vote until Friday.
Attached is a chart of what the major points are to achieve a relief bill. As you can see, states' money and liability are what is impeding progress.
It has been suggested that the points they agree on should be passed to assist the country, but that has not been accepted by all.
It is still very possible that there will be resolution by end of day Friday August 14. Do not count anything out yet.
We still do not have a clear picture on whether or not the future funding for small business will be as written in HEALS (S.4321) or as written in RESTART.
There is still strong bipartisan support that something will be done. There is also very strong and growing bipartisan support for RESTART.
Perhaps the biggest issue that would cause the legislators to agree to a bill is that schools begin next week, and absent any funding, that is a difficult task. Thus, the already agreed to school funding just might cause the two sides to reach an agreement.
This week we have had various people meet with staff from Senator Young, Senator Bennet, Senator Feinstein, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Kelly.
The "One Voice" drive-through event in LA from Live Events Coalition happened today, and there are two more planned this week.
Our friends in the UK, Ireland and Europe have been busy as well. Below is a link to a 10 second video of the #wemakevenentshappen Red Alert Night, which was Tuesday night in London: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDw0PyLpDQz/?igshid=13x4rb5gukg26
In a related fashion, the UK held a social distanced event successfully and you can read about it and see photos of exactly what they did: https://www.nme.com/news/music/fans-react-as-sam-fender-opens-uks-first-socially-distanced-outdoor-venue-2725676
The focus of all this is that our voices are being heard and live events are slowing beginning the climb out.
We are a resilient group of people with wonderful companies in an amazing industry. It is more important now than ever that we all keep a positive attitude and move forward day by day.
Remember that old expression, If you think you can, or if your think you can’t, you’re right.
Each of us must start every day with a positive, can-do attitude, and we will get through this together. We will be stronger and better on the other side.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your grace, your strength and your determination under pressure.
Continue to communicate with your legislators and make them aware of the urgency that the Live Event Industry must have the next round of financial aid and that it cannot wait until September.
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
Items in RED are major points of disagreement.
Items in GREEN are largely agreed to.
Items in ORANGE seemingly can or will be agreed to.
Congress was not able to reach a deal. President Trump stepped in and issued four Executive Orders.
Whether these will help is unclear. Whether these are legal — and will thus be delayed or canceled — is also unclear. Details are in Michael Strickland's August 10 update letter; click the gray bar to read it.
August 10, 2020 11:30 am Eastern
Relief for People and Small Business
As you have most likely heard, on Saturday the President signed four Executive Orders. An Executive Order is an action issued by The President that causes something to be done at their directive.
Here are the four Orders.
1. Continuation of Enhanced Unemployment Insurance as created in the CARES Act, but at $400 per week until 12-31-20.
2. Continued moratorium on evictions until 12-31-20.
3. Continued deferment of payment of Student Loans and accrual of interest until 12-31-20.
4. Deferment of payment by employees of FICA and Medicare taxes until 12-31-20 for people that earn under $100,000.
These four Actions assist people that are unemployed and people that are struggling to pay rent and or student loans. They also mean a paycheck that will be 7.65% larger for people that earn under $100,000. Thus, both employed and unemployed people have received some form of assistance.
The details of some of this are unclear as to how they will play out eventually.
The additional $400 per week in Enhanced Unemployment Insurance is 75% funded by the Federal Government and 25% funded by the States. Thus, the States must agree to this and fund their portion. This is in addition to the normal state provided Unemployment Insurance. This is retroactive back to the date the original program lapsed, so recipients should get a check to cover the weeks since the original plan ended. There is now loose talk this morning that the Federal Government will indeed pay all 100% of this $400.
The moratorium on evictions keeps people from being evicted for non-payment of rent. Details on this are cloudy, as the landlords certainly have rights as well. More definition to follow. Some people read it as merely a “suggestion” to landlords with a non-defined offer of “assistance”.
The student loan payments are deferred until 2021, but not forgiven. The interest is stopped and does not accrue up to 12-31-20. As written, the amount due will be due once payments begin again in 2021. The President did state he would work with Congress to have the payments between now and the end of the year forgiven. That is not done yet.
The deferment of the employees 7.65% FICA and Medicare taxes for people making less than $100,000 will take place from date of signing until 12-31-20. This will result in a 7.65% larger paycheck. These taxes still be due from the employee in 2021 as these taxes are deferred, not forgiven. The President did state he would work with Congress to have these taxes forgiven. This is not done yet.
The two large remaining issues for small businesses, and Live Events in specific, are additional business funding and COVID Liability Indemnity. Neither of these were addressed in the Executive Orders. Both sides continue to state a willingness to continue negotiations and return to talks. Indeed, those talks will resume today.
As of today, it is still unclear if the language in HEALS or RESTART will be the basis for additional small business funding. There is agreement from both sides of the aisle that businesses severely impacted by COVID closures do need additional funding to survive. RESTART continues to gain support and momentum. Thursday 3 more Senators cosigned to support the bill bringing the total to 51. Friday 13 House members signed to co-sponsor the bill bringing the total to 91 House members. The support is bipartisan and continues to gain support. Almost half of our Senators and Congresspeople now support RESTART, which is encouraging. We should have a clearer picture today and tomorrow as negotiations continue.
Simply stated, RESTART would allow an impacted small busines to claim up to 45% of 2019 gross income. Whatever percentage of that money is spent on payroll, payroll related expenses, rent, mortgage interest, note interest and a few other costs will be forgivable. The balance will be, as of now, a 7 year 2 or 3% loan. There would be no payments in year one and interest only in year two. All these details are subject to change, and there is a large push to make the loan longer term and at 1% interest.
On the Liability Indemnity front, there continues to be entities and forces far larger than our industry that are calling for this legal protection. These negotiations range from no protection whatsoever to blanket indemnity, and all things in between. This too will become clearer today and tomorrow.
The big stumbling block at this point is money for states. I have shared with you for weeks that I feared this would be the one item that would hold up this bill, and indeed it is. The Democrats are requesting $915 billion dollars for state relief and the Republicans are requesting $150 billion dollars for state relief. This is the single biggest point of negotiation now, and unless and until this is worked out, everything else sits idle. It has been suggested that small business relief be presented in a clean stand-alone bill. From one point of view, passage of RESTART as a clean bill would immediately help the struggling small businesses in the US. This idea is now gaining support as well, though I am not sure how likely it is.
There will be updates provided when more information becomes available as to where the negotiations seem to be as a starting point. Once we know the starting point, we can decide on our next call to action.
There is one possible action that could take place that needs to be considered. It is possible that someone challenges the legality of the Presidents Executive Orders in court. If this occurs, all the orders will be halted until the court decides on the legality. It is unknown as to whether these orders will be challenged. If they are challenged, the Enhanced Unemployment Insurance money will not flow, and evictions can take place. Student loan payments will be due and payroll taxes will be paid as normal.
To restate, both sides of the aisle have reconfirmed this morning they are willing to come to an agreement and indeed will, as the American people need this next relief bill. There is a widely held, bipartisan belief that an agreement can and will be hammered out and this next relief bill will indeed be delivered.
Thank you and please stay tuned for further details.
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
Thanks to all the ILDA Members who wrote to their legislators. Here is an update as of Friday morning, August 7. Note that writing and/or calling Congress is still important. Perhaps even more important, since Congress needs to know how essential this help is for businesses, independent contracts, families and individuals.
Friday, August 7 2020, 9:30 am Eastern
I wanted to provide everyone with some positive news this morning. While the meeting last night did make some progress, no agreement was reached.
However, the Senate is coming back in session next week to continue their work toward a relief package.
They technically finish session at noon today, but they have been called into session next week as well.
It is the hope of both sides of the aisle that they finish this important work for the American people.
There is still no clear word of what language is most like being used in regards to further small business relief. That news will be distributed as soon as it is known.
It has also been stated that whatever work out is agreed to in regards to Enhanced Unemployment and Eviction Moratorium, those will most likely both be retroactive. Hopefully this is a bright spot for everyone in this lengthy journey.
It would be prudent if everyone again send a short, personal e-mail to your Senator reminding them how urgent this is for you and the Live Event Industry that they pass a relief bill with the RESTART language included.
Thank you all for everything you do and take care.
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
On August 3, 2020 a group of current and former CEO's sent a letter listing principles that should be in legislation to help businesses. These are:
Click here to read the July 16, 2020 letter sent from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) to Senate leaders.
A key paragraph: "Due to the unique circumstances of our industry, we support industry-specific federal assistance through payroll support, tax relief and loan guarantees. Allowing the hardest-hit businesses with demonstrated losses to receive a second PPP loan would help, as would the bipartisan RESTART Act (S. 3814), which proposes seven-year, low- interest loans with deferred interest and principal repayments."
It was signed by six NAMM officials.
Summary: As of June 30, the results are not clear. There is no agreement on a path forward. But the live event industry is coming together, especially with the help of NAMM who actually get results in Washington. People in live events need to write their legislators, and in other ways makes their voices heard.
Today, July 16, 2020, is D-Day for the Live Event Industry. Today is the moment in time when we collectively begin the final push to work with our Congresspeople and Senators to assure that our industry is able to survive into 2021. On March 12th when this anomaly of COVID 19 invaded us, our world shut down in a moment. Most of us believed that we would be back to normal in 30 to 90 days. So, we all quietly followed instructions, shut down, gathered our resources, and went into an imposed hibernation. As we moved to the end of June and the reality of the situation became apparent, everyone was forced to take a serious look at their own circumstance as it related to the truth that our industry was still completely shuttered.
I had previously written that June 30 would be a day when the future of Live Events for 2020 would be clearly defined. Much like anticipating the Superbowl or the World Cup, I believed a final result would occur. We would have a definitive answer. I never saw what happened coming. A tie. None of us could imagine nor would we accept a tie in the Superbowl or The World Cup. But with the COVID 19 virus, we have been handed a tie. There is not a clear winner or a clear path. The US and indeed the world is split on what path to take going forward. Do we shut or do we open? Schools, churches, restaurants, theaters, malls, stores, sports and yes, venues and events. Where we sit medically has been interpreted in several different ways. You may feel your perception is correct, but other people have different perceptions. Thus, the political situation is equally confusing. The medical and the political situation are intertwined now and there is no 100% agreement on a path forward. Perhaps I was foolish to believe it was as simple as open or shut.
This is what we do know now. The likelihood of events reopening to a significant level in the next 3 to 4 months is very low. Thus, to a point, we do have a decision. How many times have you asked your boss a question and gotten no answer? The non answer is an answer. In this case, the lack of a clear path to reopening means we remain shuttered. That is where we are. It does not matter why. That is just where we are. We are still in the quicksand and need to focus on getting out rather than how we got here.
This leads us to today, D-Day. In the last four months I have gotten to know many of you. I have made hundreds of new friends. I have heard your wants, needs, concerns and fears. We have become like the soldiers in the landing crafts headed to Omaha Beach on D-Day. The recent time together has made us one, and we are all staring at the cliffs on the beach ahead wondering how we survive. Together. So, all we have at this exact moment is each other and the strength of our size. Our time together has made us one, and in the next 10 days what we do will determine our fate. Together, we win. You know that. I know that. We know that. But we must all work in unison to achieve our goals and succeed.
The goal at this point is clear and simple. We have all made it to today through sheer grit and determination. We will make it to the end, but we cannot give up. We discovered along the way that we are indeed a band of gypsies with no real, strong, common voice in Washington DC. Think of us like a lot of children, and our Congresspeople and Senators are mom and dad. If we want something, we need to ask Mom and Dad. But we had no strong voice. We were but whispers in the wind.
In the last 12 weeks the various segments of the industry have pulled together, and we are all now on the same page, speaking the same language. As the events unfolded, we discovered that there was an organization with a large, loud voice in Washington. That organization is NAMM. The National Association of Music Merchandisers. They have long fought for their industry in Washington and indeed achieved great things. They have a staff, a focus, and a budget to achieve goals in Washington. They actually speak to Mom and Dad. They are heard.
Joe Lamond, the President of NAMM, has graciously agreed for NAMM to be the voice for the Live Event Industry at this time. Live Events are part of the fabric of what NAAM represents, and it is time Live Events became a part of and supported NAMM. I joined today! NAMM is now working on behalf of all of the music and Live Events industry and people in this time of need. As we invade the beachfront, NAMM is the tip of the spear. The NAMM lobbying team is working for us now.
Congress will be in session July 20 to August 8. In this session it is their intention to deliver the 4th and final COVID 19 Relief Bill. There will most likely be no more federal relief. Our industry needs two important items: Another round of PPP and a system of low interest long term loans, or Grants. Both items have been on the table and in discussion for
weeks. There is bipartisan support for both, and all parties seem to indicate something will be worked out. This is meant to be targeted to only those industries that are still impacted and have no other way of survival. This is focused at Leisure and Hospitality, which we sit inside of. Restaurants, hotels, bars, gyms, and others also sit in this focused area.
There are two other issues of interest to all of us, but several other much larger industries are fighting those fights. Both Liability Indemnity and extension of Enhanced Unemployment are needed items going forward. Again, the popular theme on the street in DC is that some form of both of those will indeed be delivered. We leave those fights to others and focus on our two needs. The word on the street seems to have the Enhanced Unemployment to possibly end up in the $400 per week area, through the end of 2020.
As we begin this campaign what each of us needs to do is simple. One last time we need to e-mail our congresspeople and Senators and make the final ask. Attached there is a PDF letter from NAMM to send to your Senators as an attachment. You will also cut and past the below letter to use as the body of your letter.
Dear (fill in Senator and/or staffer name):
I write to bring your attention to challenges facing the live event industry and to urge the inclusion of targeted relief for the industry as Congress considers additional coronavirus relief measures this month.
Live event venues were among the first to close and will likely be the last to reopen. Workers in the live event sector were among the first to have their jobs disrupted, and they will be among the last to return to their jobs. By its very nature, live events work cannot be done from home. In recent decades, a significant and growing share of employment and economic activity has come from the business of “getting people together.” Live event venues — many of which are owned by local governments – generate millions in tax revenue and sustain jobs in communities across the country. Restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and other local businesses also directly benefit from the hundreds of millions of concerts, theater, festival, fair and eventgoers who attend millions of events each year. Events, both commercial and nonprofit, are central to our individual and collective identity. Live performance venues and the artists and workers in the industry are the lifeblood of the cultural and social identity of our neighborhoods. Social distancing, capacity limitations and other restrictions mean that the live event industry will not recover in any meaningful way until next year, and likely not until summer or later. It is impossible to operate in a viable manner at low capacity.
We appreciate the leadership Congress has shown by providing vital, short-term assistance with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanding unemployment insurance eligibility to “gig” workers and the self-employed, and extending other relief. Businesses such as the live event industry that are facing prolonged closure, however, need additional help.
Due to the unique circumstances of our industry, we support industry-specific federal assistance through payroll support, tax relief, and loan guarantees. Allowing the hardest hit businesses with demonstrated losses to receive a second PPP loan would help, as would the bipartisan “RESTART Act” (S. 3814), which proposes seven-year, low-interest loans with deferred interest and principal repayments.
Title, company, city, state
To end on a positive note, two potential vaccines, Moderna mRNA 1273 and AstraZeneca AZN1222 both released phenomenal news in the last 24 hours. Both have had significant positive results. Both have indicated a possibility of a vaccine this year. Moderna has said as early as November, and AstraZeneca has said possibly by September. You can go online and read the details, but both have released very promising news which would translate into a quicker opening for everything, including the Live Event Industry.
I want to thank all of you for what you do, and for your dedication and effort. It has been phenomenal. I will keep you updated as several of us continue to work behind the scenes in the next few weeks. There is no task more important at this moment. This is all to assist the people and the companies. Without the people, there are no companies. Each one of you is important. Do not forget all of this is available to free-lance workers as well as W2 people.
Thank you all very much and let us push onto victory in 2020.
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
Summary: The May 30 demonstrations will, by June 30, give us an idea of whether large gatherings will be significant spreaders of the coronavirus. We should then be able to make a firm, educated, data-driven decision about mass gathering events in the rest of 2020.
June 3, 2020
There are always unintended consequences for most things in life. Those of us in the Live Events Industry have struggled since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to accurately define exactly when live events will return. The medical and the political situations must both be positively aligned in order for everyone to feel comfortable to return in masses to live events.
As we move toward football, baseball, basketball, racing, and theme parks reopening, we wonder when concerts and other live events can and will return. Currently, most of the live event industry is planning some version of reopening with extraordinary health precautions. Perhaps no one will deliver in a safer manner than the world leaders, Disney and Universal, as they open their family-oriented parks globally. Virtually everyone is going to deliver a version of opening that will guide us forward to eventually allow concerts and other mass gatherings.
Then, the current large-scale social unrest resulting from the tragic death of George Floyd occurred. From March 25 until today the world has seen large scale public gathers with little concern of social distancing, washing hands, shared food and beverages and little concern on preventing the spread of COVID-19. The world has seen over 500 different mass gatherings of crowds ranging from 5,000 to over 100,000 people, all in the most dangerous manner. Herein lies the unintended consequence that will define the future of live events in 2020.
Had the mass gatherings not occurred, the world would have very slowly looked at the muted versions of gatherings as, one by one, the NFL, the NCAA, NASCAR, theme parks and others would have slowly reopened. We would have had to deduce from the success of slow, controlled reopening’s exactly what it may look like to have a mass gathering of 10,000 or more people at a live event. At best, we would have had an educated guess as to what the first large scale live event might look like. Many people would have been very nervous, and as of today, who knows when we would perhaps be able to have large crowds. It would all have been a calculated, educated guess, based on limited data.
Now, because of the large-scale social unrest, we will have a large data set of real data, based on large scale gatherings held in the worst possible manner. Had anyone suggested that we hold 20 large concerts, wait a month, and then see what happened, you would have been laughed out of the industry. But now, these over 500 large mass gatherings will give us the results of the consequences of large crowds gathering in the worst possible manner.
June 30th will be more than 30 days since the mass gatherings began. To that end, according to all medical experts, we will have a result. As of June 30, 2020, one of two things will have happened. The first possible outcome is that there will be an extraordinarily large number of infected and ill people in the world, and the medical systems and infrastructure will be overwhelmed in a manner we have not yet seen. Should this occur, it will greatly diminish the chances of the return of large live events in 2020. The second possible outcome is that there is not a large medical event that overwhelms the medical systems and infrastructure, but rather at worst a smaller, controlled number of people are somehow affected. In this circumstance, it would seem to indicate that the ability to safely hold larger gatherings is indeed a seemingly safe possibility. This outcome would most likely instill confidence in the public, who would certainly need to feel safe and buy into going to a large public gathering.
The unintended consequence of the many large public gatherings created by the social unrest will most likely move up the date that an educated decision can be made regarding safely holding large live entertainment events to June 30, 2020.
We should be in a position on June 30, 2020 to look at the collective data from the over 500 large scale mass gathers with the resulting medical consequences and make a very firm, educated, data driven decision on whether to hold or not hold large scale mass gatherings and events in 2020. It would seem that the appetite and ability of artists, promotors, venues, municipalities, fans, and all of the other stakeholders will be educated and affected by the outcome of the medical data and results from the over 500 mass social unrest gatherings. Thus, the unintended consequence of the social unrest will seemingly provide the Live Event Industry with a much better data set and an earlier date to chart the course for the remainder of 2020.
We should all pull for a positive result.
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
Summary: It is often said "we are all in this together," but it's deeper than that. It may be "the same storm" for all, but some are riding it out in yachts while others are in leaking rowboats waiting to sink. Live entertainment will be one of the last to open, and will have zero income until large crowds can assemble again. We need to let elected officials know that we are a 35 billion dollar a year business with 10 million people dependent on it.
May 5, 2020
As we all go through the COVID 19 situation, a great many sayings have emerged. Most were, at first, clever, uplifting, and catchy. Now, as we enter weeks nine and beyond, some of them do not ring so true to many people. Perhaps the most problematic catch phrase is now “We Are All In This Together.” As many people have now been without any form of income for eight weeks, a clear distinction has come to the forefront. Yes, we are all in this together, but it is deeper than that.
The truth is, “Same Storm – Different Boats.”
For those people fortunate enough to have a job that continues to pay them fully through this time, or those with large personal wealth, this is a “tough time” or “an inconvenience”, but it is not life or death. For those people and companies that have little to no income, and wonder how much longer they can survive, this COVID 19 situation is indeed life or death. We are all in the same storm, but some of us are in 300-foot yachts, and some of us are in leaking row boats, wondering exactly when the boat will sink.
Greater than 60% of the companies in America are “at risk” and an even greater number of people are either now unemployed or “at risk.”
The end result for many people is either unemployment, or a career change. The Enhanced Unemployment Income stops on July 31. After that, those on unemployment will drop to an amount of funding that may not sustain their lifestyle. Those people that have sought other employment have, or may, in many cases, work for a wage far below what they were once earning. Nevertheless, there is a small level of income for most people.
Many companies, on the other hand, cannot continue to exist on 25% to 60% income levels. The reduced income will simply not cover their fixed operating costs. Once the companies cease to exist, there is no place for the former employees to return to work. For the last two months, and most likely for the next two or more months, all Live Entertainment Production companies are at zero income. Zero. No one really knows when large crowds will be permitted again. No one.
The reopening will be a slow train, by all accounts. Live Entertainment is the caboose of the reopening train, with Live Entertainment Production people and firms sitting in the rear of the caboose. Entertainers can, will, and have come up with new ways to sell their products.
Online streaming, live events with no crowds, small socially distanced public events and other events of this nature have and will occur more frequently. This provides some level of income for all of those at the top of the Live Entertainment food chain, but it does nothing for the millions of sound, light, video, staging, pyro, rigging, bussing, trucking, backline and production people and firms in the industry. The entire Live Entertainment Production community will sit at zero income until large crowds are allowed to assemble. That is a fact.
The Live Entertainment Production community has looked at every possible way to “pivot” and “reinvent” themselves. Both of these are also clever terms used in the last eight weeks. Again, the truth is that the billions of dollars of equipment owned by the Live Entertainment Production firms has one function: To deliver large live events. There is no “pivot” that works. None. We all know that.
Thus, we are all in the same storm, but in very different boats. As we move forward, Live Entertainment Production may be the only industry in this position. Hair salons, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, tattoo parlors, cruise lines, hotels and the wide variety of other leisure industries can and will slowly open with reduced numbers of people and social distancing. They will certainly struggle, but, eventually, they have a chance and a path to a full recovery.
Live Entertainment Production companies and people are in an all or nothing situation. Until large crowds of 10,000 to 100,000 can gather, Live Entertainment Production companies are sitting idle. These firms simply cannot create a version of themselves that supports the firm and the people to do shows for small crowds. Live Entertainment Production is a high dollar, high volume business. The firms have billions of dollars invested in equipment and training people. Imagine if Ford, Chevrolet, or any car company produced 5% of their output. They could not sustain the factory and the business. The auto businesses and the auto industry would collapse.
The Live Entertainment industry in the US is estimated to be a 35 billion dollar a year business. There are over 10 million people that work in this industry. Most all of the Live Entertainment Production people and companies are all out of work until large crowds are allowed to gather.
To quote someone I heard speak a few weeks ago, “They do not know we exist”.
It is imperative that we all do everything that we can to make our elected officials aware that Live Entertainment Production exists as an industry, and that we will sit at zero income until such time as large crowds can and do gather. We are not advocating a plan or a guideline. We are simply making all of our elected leaders aware that we exist as an industry. No amount of saying “We are all in the together” or any other catchy phrase will solve our issue or our needs.
A final piece of our message concerns legal liability. In my opinion, until legislation is passed that removes all liability from any type of COVID 19 related lawsuits, there will be no Live Entertainment. No one could afford the risk of class action lawsuits.
I urge everyone to use the attached link, https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials, and contact your local, State and Federal elected officials. Send them this article, or, create a letter of your own. Whatever you do, let them know we exist and are in in a situation unlike any other industry. The full weight of millions of people contacting all of our elected officials is our best chance toward affecting awareness and change in a fashion to assure our industry is recognized and supported.
The message to communicate is simple: Live Entertainment Production is an industry with 10 million people, and it will sit at zero income until large crowds can assemble. The industry will not reopen until there is legislation removing any liability from COVID 19 lawsuits. The people and the companies cannot exist for an extended period with zero income.
This is but one step toward solving the situation that Live Entertainment Production people and companies are facing. There are many endeavors and organizations working on this and other issues. We applaud everyone that is working on this. If everyone that reads this does two things, we will affect change. First, use the link and contact all of your local, state, and federal elected officials and share this article or a letter of your own. Second, forward this article to everyone you possibly can.
Yes, we are all in the same COVID 19 storm, but we are all in very different boats! Thank you,
Michael T. Strickland
Chair and Founder
This section is based on information from Michael T. Strickland, who used to work with Laser Media, who is founder of Bandit Lites, and who works with major acts such as Garth Brooks and Jimmy Buffett. He also has extensive legislative/lobbying experience for a person from the live event industry. ILDA wants to thank Michael for his tireless efforts, as well as Stephen Vitale, President and CEO of Pyrotecnico FX who brought ILDA to this effort.
The artwork above comes from Olga Eser of EFFECT Laser Systems Ltd. in Antalya, Turkey. She is also a member of the ILDA Board of Directors.
On March 26, 2020 she posted on various social media:
"To all our industry friends and partners! Please encourage Postponing and Rescheduling over canceling! Delaying revenue vs losing it completely can help stop more event industry businesses from shuttering and from people losing their jobs. #saveevents #postponedontcancel "
A full-resolution version of the graphic can be downloaded here. The image is an ILDA Award photography entry from Nice Lasers.
ILDA is offering special, one-time discounted rates for our online Laser Safety Officer - Lasershows courses during April and May 2020. Six courses will be taught, live online via Webex or Zoom.
Discounts range from 19% to 62%, depending on ILDA membership status.
More information is on the ILDA laser safety courses page.
ILDA is holding a laser show contest from March 30 through May 11.
Every two weeks, ILDA will send out a list of songs. Entrants will have nine days to create shows set to these songs, using a single X-Y scanner projector. There are three different categories: Beams, Graphics and Abstracts.
Finished shows will be uploaded for viewing online. Anyone can view and vote for their favorites during a 3-day period. The winner in each category will receive an ILDA Award trophy, generously donated by Richard Gonsalves.
There will be three contests, one every two weeks. Then, there will be a final contest among the nine weekly winners, to find the “Best in Show” of each category.
More information is on the ILDA Offline contest page.
COVID-19 Crisis Support from LSI Online. For the lighting, sound and production industry. Includes information on Industry campaigns, Financial and health support, Training and initiatives, Statements from industry bodies & charities, and Latest reaction from businesses. Primarily for the U.K. and Europe. Thanks to James Stewart for this link.
PLASA Coronavirus resource page. For the lighting, sound and production industry. PLASA has started Facebook and LinkedIn groups where PLASA members can share experiences. They also have additional resources listed, primarily for the U.K. and Europe.
COVID-19 Resources and Links from ESTA, the Entertainment Services and Technology Association. Primarily U.S.
Also from ESTA, certified entertainment technicians are offering their rigging and other skills in setting up temporary hospitals and facilities. They point out that entertainment events involve large, complex temporary structures that are also flexible in use. Entertainment technicians can offer their services. More is in an April 3 2020 press release from the Entertainment Technician Certification Program of ESTA.
COVID-19 Update from Lighting and Sound America. Primarily U.S.
FAQ For Fog, Haze and COVID-19 from Look Solutions. This maker of fog machines and fluids concludes that germ travel would be the same with or without fog/haze, and there are no extra safety measures necessary (beyond normal ones such as social distancing, masks etc.) when adding fog/haze to an environment.
FINANCE AND BUSINESS
Coronavirus Resources from the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. A blog on Business affairs, Employment issues, Facilities issues, Government resources and advisories, Government loan programs, On Set issues, Travel and events, and Post-production issues. Primarily U.S.
Financial Resources Available to Photographers (many also apply to creative persons in the arts). From Fstoppers.com
State-by-state (U.S.) information and resources, from the National Association of Manufacturers. Additional NAM COVID-19 resources are here.
CARES Act information specifically for associations, from the American Society of Association Executives.
The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, assists event professionals reopening during the pandemic.
PERG Safe Return to Work Guidelines, version 2.0, released July 31 2020. This 68-page document was developed by the Production Equipment Rental Group. It focuses on production and rental equipment, but the guidelines are also applicable to laser show equipment companies and show producers.
Government websites and the press are the best resources for general news about government assistance, and for health and prevention guidance. Below are a few selected items that we have found useful. Note that information may have changed since these resources were posted.
Relief for Small Business under HR748 Cares Act (U.S. legislation), by George Dodworth of Lightwave International. The overview is: "All small businesses (< 500 Employees), sole-proprietors and freelance/independent contractors are eligible. SBA is authorizing mainstream lending to facilitate an emergency loan without the need to prove conventional SBA requirements such as financial need or inability to find loan elsewhere."
Stimulus SBA Loan and Forgiveness Program — "Paycheck Protection Program" (U.S. legislation) This may be the same program described by George above. Click the button below to see the text, which is from ILDA's accounting firm, Moss Krusick and Associates.
April 8 2020 Paycheck Protection Program FAQ from the U.S. Small Business Administration. This has updated information clarifying portions of the PPP.
A unique pandemic offering is a drive-in laser light show. Here are some ILDA is aware of:
This has played southeastern U.S. cities such as Groveton, Georgia, Tallahassee, Florida and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and will be playing Cartersville, Georgia (Aug. 20-22) and Dothan, Alabama (Sept. 3). There are up to three shows each night, featuring laser lights, music, and graphic effects. "The drive-in laser show is intended to offer safety and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and visitors should remain in or around their vehicles. General admission tickets are $25 per carload, must be purchased in advance, and will not be offered in-person at the event, and can be purchased online. There are special rates for VIP tickets and college students." A news story with photos and a video about the July 30-August 1 shows in Tallahassee is here.
Optic Media Laser and Emerald Owl Productions combined to create a drive-in laser show. The top video shows it at Raleigh, North Carolina. Additional shows are scheduled for (at least) the remainder of 2020.
A December 15, 2020 story in Pittsburgh Magazine discusses Emerald Owl's Dec. 10-20 shows in the North Park parking lot (see bottom video). The story quotes the Allegheny County Executive as saying "While we may be doing things differently this year, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still be social or celebrate the holiday. We just need to do it in different ways. By working together, and following the guidance of health experts, we will all have many holiday events to celebrate and enjoy.” The county's chief marketing officer said "People just really, really loved it."
A story on WRAL.com describes the show as "a brand new holiday tradition."
A webinar discussing the pandemic and future lasershow plans was held via Zoom on May 19, 2020. It was organized by the Professional Events Industry Association, which has primarily Saudi and Middle Eastern members.
The organizer was Abdulwahab Baghdadi, who is a former ILDA Board member. Speaking were Marc Webber of ER Productions, Olga Eser of Effect SES, and Patrick Murphy of ILDA.
The webinar video is online at https://1drv.ms/v/s!AvXJ7_FEbtXr7F38LbmSP6zBN-lM?e=umz73T.
Introductions take up the first five minutes; the webinar itself starts at about 05:38.
Laser light projections on the Pyramids at Giza say, "Stay Home - Stay Safe." This core message was delivered by ILDA Members Laseronics Design Interstellar (Washington state) and Laseronics-Middle East (Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia) using entertainment laser systems.
As most of the world is coping with the Coronavirus pandemic, Laseronics and various Egyptian government officials gathered (using extreme social distancing techniques) at the Pyramids to set up and run the advertising campaign "Stay Home – Stay Safe."
Yousri El Gazar, (Principal, Laseronics-ME Cairo Egypt) did not take very long to say YES to the organizing team. Not a paid gig, the all-volunteer squad maintained the required social distancing guidelines by having technicians working in "Zones." Special thanks go to programmer and operator Mustafa Mahmoud, who worked hard on the projection as he was given multiple live requests onsite, as media was watching over the event.
Photos and video of the event made worldwide news. Below is a screen capture of images during a story on the U.S. program PBS NewsHour (photo courtesy Bill Bennett).
Zone Offset Effects and General Q&A. Pangolin Laser Software is having a Facebook Live event Thursday, April 9 2020 at 2 pm Eastern Time (UTC -4). The main topic is how to delay your effects over multiple laser projectors to make geometric atmospheric patterns, similar to how many lighting designers program conventional lights. Also, a short question and answer session at the end. The event will be uploaded to Pangolin's YouTube channel on Friday, April 10.
Virtual Laser Show by Mike Gould, Illuminatus Lasers. This is a Facebook Live event using scrolling text atop lumia to let viewers add their comments. Users are encouraged to share their recent experiences (briefly), artistic comments, or random thoughts to the show. Begins Friday, April 3 2020 at 7 pm Eastern Time (UTC -4) and "runs until I get tired", according to Mike. To view, go to https://www.facebook.com/Clickamouse. Mike notes that Facebook Live was "designed by FB to facilitate talking heads, not filmy laser art" so the video quality may not be good. More information here.
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Top photo credit: iStockphoto