The Live Events Coalition is hosting a series of events across the country to bring attention to this “invisible” industry.

Reprinted from BizBash. I have included the following article because we are part of the Live Events that cannot happen because of the Pandemic. During the next few weeks, we will be seeing similar event happening in the Reno area. As a professional stage technician and as President of the Sierra High Notes, I am asking for your support in these efforts. Thank You

On Aug. 5, the Live Events Coalition, in conjunction with the DC Event Coalition, hosted an “Empty Event” with 48 tables on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 5, the Live Events Coalition, in conjunction with the DC Event Coalition, hosted an “Empty Event” with 48 tables on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.Photo: Michael Kress Photography

On the evening of Aug. 5, an event took place. But no one showed up. And that was the point.

As part of its ongoing efforts to bring much-needed attention to the industry, the Live Events Coalition, a volunteer-run nonprofit organization created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted an “Empty Event” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., within eyesight of the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Shaffer, founder and CEO of BRAVO! Events and the newly elected president of the coalition’s board, says that these staged events, which so far have taken place in D.C., Dallas, and New York with more on the way, are designed to “to showcase and remind people that [an event] doesn’t magically appear. That there are these extremely talented and highly skilled and trained professionals that build this.”

The D.C. event was illuminated from 8 p.m. until midnight on Aug. 5.

The D.C. event was illuminated from 8 p.m. until midnight on Aug. 5.Photo: Daniel Swartz

The grassroots organization, which grew out of a Change.org petition, aims to provide a voice to the oftentimes “invisible” industry of professionals who toil behind the scenes at galas, concerts, fundraisers, sports games, banquets, weddings, and more. “We’re not supposed to be seen,” Shaffer says.

But the live event industry is a huge economic driver, contributing roughly $1 trillion to the economy prior to COVID-19. That’s partly because its ecosystem touches many other upstream and downstream markets. According to the coalition, the industry is expected to lose up to 80% of its overall revenue. 

“Not only am I not working—my florist isn’t working, my wholesaler isn’t working, and the farmer who was planting those crops is not working,” says Shaffer.

And because of the industry’s inherent segmentation, with different associations formed around certain specialty groups such as caterers or rental companies, Shaffer says that there needed to be someone to lobby on behalf of everyone—the planners, caterers, talent, musicians, producers, technicians, general contractors, engineers, suppliers, manufacturers, and others. “There was no umbrella organization. … The national Live Events Coalition is attempting to become that entity and to be that voice.”

“Our needs are extremely unique in comparison to any other industry,” she explains. “We consider the restaurant industry our brothers and sisters. We consider the hotel industry brothers and sisters. But they’re different. When they say you can come back to work, you can come back to work. The next day they are up and operational. For the live events industry, I am sure that we will be, by far, the last to reopen and we can’t do it until it’s safe. And we also cannot reopen technically until people feel safe going to events.”

The organization has enlisted the help of creative advocacy firm Subject Matter to create a communications plan to promote its efforts. In addition to the “empty events,” the coalition also launched a hashtag campaign called #WishIWasThere. Event pros are encouraged to share behind-the-scenes images from events via social media and explain how the lack of events is affecting them financially. They are also asked to tag their representatives in Congress.

To help with the economic burden, the coalition is currently lobbying Congress for an updated and improved Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); an updated and improved Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program; the ability for businesses who have already received PPP and EIDL assistance to reapply based on need; easier access to SBA 7(a) funding; and an updated and improved Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

As of last week, the Senate and House had agreed to delay their planned August recesses in order to vote on a pandemic relief package.

Shaffer says that her pivot into politics is unexpected but perhaps not surprising. Having grown up in Berkeley, Calif., “I was raised to fight for what I believe in. I was raised to never cross picket lines. I was raised to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves,” she explains. Her father was a community organizer, so her involvement in the coalition seemed to be destined. “I believe that is him within me, pushing me forward on this. … That’s my pivot—to bring recognition to our industry, make sure that legislators provide us with relief because we’re going to need it longer than anybody else, and that long term we create an entity that will always be there for the live events industry.”

The national organization boasts over 1,000 members, so far, with smaller state coalitions in California, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. (The California coalition will host an activation on August 12 at Xbox Plaza in L.A. Live in Los Angeles, where producers Sterling Engagements are coordinating a mix-media art installation and a car parade.)

In addition to lobbying Congress for federal aid, Shaffer says that the coalition will continue to provide resources and support for the industry. “Our hope is that some of these cities and states will look to us for reopening guidance, but also as we move forward, as the world of events changes and how we experience those events from a safety standpoint and experiential standpoint, a revenue standpoint, etc. [changes] that we are there as a resource to those as well.”

It’s Artown…Sort of!

Well it is finally July and that means it is time for Artown. However this will not be the normal festival we have known for that past 20+ years. No, this year has been abbreviated by the Covid pandemic. Large performances and most live entertainment isn’t even allowed as the state and nation contend with the new swell of cases. So Artown will be much more in tune with the graphic arts. So to be a part of the festival, we at the Sierra High Notes have gone virtual.

We have been a part of every Artown and we didn’t want to break our streak so starting July 1 we are presenting a Virtual Performance on YouTube. We have three songs from a previous concert and the “Isolation Version” of our theme song, “We Wish You Music.” Just click and enjoy. And please share this with your friends and family because you are our best publicity. And as always:

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Wear a Mask. Observe All social distancing requirements.

Let’s be part of the solution. Together we will prevail.

Virtual Choir! The Next Choir Wave?

You might have seen this on You Tube or Facebook. Singers in separate locations singing their parts and all of it put together into one video. Very ingenious way for singers and choirs to perform without being in public. Of course we all know this is because of Covid 19 and the fact that singing is perhaps the fastest way to spread a virus. The CDC has recommended that singing groups do not get together to perform or even rehearse until there is a vaccine or standardized treatment. That could take 6 months up to two years!

Well we couldn’t be left behind and because Artown is also dramatically effected too, we have begun to move into the world of video production and our first Virtual song is out. We started with our Theme song, We Wish You Music. (Click the title to watch) It was a challenge but we had fun. We are beginning our next song which should be out in about 5-6 weeks on our new You Tube page. Don’t forget to click the “Subscribe” button to find us faster and also click the bell to be notified whenever we a new song. Enjoy!

Singing and the Coronavirus

from Kevin Craik, President. The Coronavirus Shutdown has lasted a long time. A lot of our supporters and our singers are anxious to have our group singing again. I too am wanting to get back on stage and get the show going. However we are still in the pandemic shutdown and there is another major concern: Group singing spreads viruses.

In a recent article from the Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-06-01/coronavirus-choir-singing-cdc-warning it is noted that a choir rehearsal is responsible for several large outbreaks of the virus. They noted that from one rehearsal, 53 of 61 (87%) attending got the virus. That is a huge number. Because of how much singing can spread a virus, “experts advised choirs and performing arts groups not to gather again to sing in person until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 becomes widely available, even if that takes two years or more.” Ouch! Given that much of our membership falls into “at high risk” categories, we need to heed this recommendation.

So that means our choir will probably not get together as a single group for a while. That also means we need to find other vehicles to “share the gift of song.” There is no doubt music can heal the spirit and given the events of 2020, our community needs lots of healing. We already know that we cannot sing during Artown next month. Most large venues won’t even be open because of social distancing restrictions. This will affect all performing groups including dance companies, acting companies, and of course singers. So how do we get our chorus singing again?

I’ve begun a virtual choir project. Some of you have seen them on You Tube. It looks so simple: Get videos of people singing a song (or playing instruments) and put it all together on a computer. Some folks think you can just get a group of singers together on a “Zoom” video meeting and just sing and record. Even in a perfect world, that doesn’t work because of latency with video and audio signals. It is a lot of work but so far it has been a lot of fun. I hope to have something posted on this website by July 1st (the beginning of Artown) so that maybe your Sierra High Notes can still be “sharing the gift of song” for yet another Artown festival. Until then, pray that a vaccine or treatment for Covid 19 comes soon and please know that our singers miss singing as much as you miss hearing us sing!

New Address for us!

In an effort to cut costs, we have eliminated our office at the McKinley Arts Center. This makes the cash flow easier in years when we don’t get enough grants. It also gives us more options when we are successful in fundraising.

This means we have a new mailing address. It is:

P.O.Box 5476

Reno, NV 89513

Our phone number which changed a few months ago is: 775-393-9789

SHN at the Balloon Races 2019

Thank you to everyone who came out to support us at the Great Reno Balloon Race. As always the balloons are beautiful. We hope the crowd liked our selections. It’s often difficult to judge the crowd because so much is going on. Afterall we are just the cream filling between the Dawn Patrol and the Mass Ascension.

Thank you to Eric Kao, Debbie Bero, and Kevin Craik for the pictures.

Dawn Patrol – All Aglow
Dawn Patrol “The Glow Show”
Members of the Sierra High Notes
L to R Eric Kao our Accompanist, Ron Smith our Narrator (and the voice of the Great Reno Balloon Race), and Music Director Sharon Eyre