The live events industry is reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and will experience unprecedented levels of change to survive. Fortunately, the people that make up this industry are resourceful, resilient, and committed to finding a way to do what they love, safely, in these challenging times. The impact on the live events industry extends well beyond the companies and technicians putting on shows.
Evolve commissioned Spectacle Photo to do a series highlighting the depth and breadth of this impact on the live events industry and industries on the periphery of live events. The photographer for this series, Rich Johnson, took the approach of focusing on the people now faced with the harsh reality of how to move forward in the experience economy.
Rich Johnson noted, “After talking to the participants I was struck by just how connected all of these people and industries are, it’s like there is a delicate thread tying us all together and when it’s severed for one industry the effects are felt by all.”
Warren Buffet’s company, Berkshire Hathaway hosts an annual meeting in Omaha Nebraska, but this year it was canceled because of the pandemic. The economic impact of this cancellation is an estimated $21.3 million, according to the city’s tourism bureau, Visit Omaha. That wasn’t the only cancellation for the city either; event cancellations in Omaha between March 1st and June 30th have cost the city’s economy around $197 million.
This pattern is repeating in cities across the country; Comic-Con in San Diego, PAX in Seattle, SXSW in Austin, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and more. Each city’s economy is experiencing a trickle-down effect; restaurants, bars, hotels, and cultural attractions are seeing fewer customers and fewer dollars coming in. Without the live events sector running at full steam, businesses in the hospitality industry are struggling right along with the production and staging companies, freelance technicians, and events planners.
Live events result in $325 billion dollars of direct spending into our nation’s economy. There are 5.5 million event attendees annually, and the average spend per meeting participant is $1,294. The industry also accounts for 5.9 million jobs across the country.
What Does It Mean?
Without a healthy live events sector, we can expect small businesses to suffer; restaurants, bars, shops, and independent hotels will struggle to keep the doors open without the clientele and spending dollars funneled in from live events.
What Can We Do?
The good news is we don’t have to take this lying down. There is something we can do about it. Tell Congress how important the live events industry is to the health of our economy and demand a comprehensive relief bill. Sign this petition for a federal aid package and join the coalition to stay apprised on how you can help the industry and those that comprise it.
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- Coronavirus canceled Warren Buffett’s shareholder party. Omaha is suffering.
- Most Americans to avoid sports, other live events before coronavirus vaccine: Reuters/Ipsos