Empty Events

empty events
(Photo Credit: Michael Kress Photography)

The Washington, D.C.–based Live Events Coalition came to fruition when, in late March, live event professionals came to the staggering conclusion that not only were they the first industry to shut down but would be by far be the last to reopen. What did this mean for their lives and livelihoods?

The Coalition started out as a Change.Org petition requesting federal assistance for the live events industry. Now, with almost half a million signatures, the Coalition, in an effort to magnify the shocking challenges the industry faces, held its first “Empty Event” on July 31, in NYC’s Times Square. Volunteers set up 48 empty tables with full settings and more than 500 chairs to illustrate the literal as much as figurative emptiness of the current events industry. A similar installation was created on August 5 in the nation’s capital on the National Mall with more to come.

Nancy Shaffer, founder and CEO of BRAVO! Events and the newly elected president of the coalition’s board, says that these staged happenings are designed to bring awareness to what it takes to produce an event. “We realized we needed to create a campaign to focus on the 12 million people in our industry who currently are not able to work. Rolling Stone called us the largest industry no one ever heard of. So many don’t realize we are responsible for one trillion dollars of annual revenue,” she said.

empty events
(Photo Credit: Natural Expressions NY / Hechler Photographers)

According to The Live Events Coalition, the economic repercussions continue to add up, with predictions that the industry collapse could surpass that of the 2008 recession and mortgage market collapse. And lest people think, yes, well, all industries are suffering, let’s not neglect this fact: the live events industry is almost 2.5 times the size of GM with total yearly revenues of in excess of $337 Billion in 2016 compared to $125 Billion for GM in 2019. The Events Council (eventscouncil.org) estimates that on a total GDP basis, the global events industry is as large as the 13th largest global economy.

The coalition is a completely volunteer-run 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact. The coalition provides advocacy, resources, and a network to connect and support a workforce of 12 million people: businesses, contractors, and individual members.

To learn more about The Live Events Coalition, click here.

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