A coalition of the top concert promoters, venue managers, and show producers want a bailout. They say the live entertainment industry is facing a financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help from the government to stay afloat.
In a copy of a memo obtained by Billboard, the coalition asks Congress to expand the Paycheck Protection Act to entertainment companies with 500 or fewer employees. They also want an expansion of loans to mid-sized businesses under the CARES Act and the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program.
“Our businesses were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” reads the memo, dated April 2020, signed by 19 organizations including AEG, Live Nation, and The Broadway League. “Without immediate financial assistance, the future of the public entertainment and event industry is in question. Accordingly, Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry.”
The coalition said Congress and the insurance industry “must establish a Business Recovery Fund for the public entertainment and event industry, modeled on the 9-11 Victims fund, to aid the businesses and their employees that were forced to shut down due to COVID-19 and will continue to struggle even after the economy restarts.”
The COVID-19 crisis has caused the cancellation of events nationwide, and many events companies say they face the possibility of going an entire year without any revenue, Billboard reported.
“Many insurance carriers have pre-emptively asserted that property damage and event cancellation policies will not provide coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states.
The industry is disproportionately impacted, event companies said in the letter. “It is likely that even once many of the current orders are relaxed there may well continue to be restrictions and limitations imposed upon public gatherings for an extended period.
Coalition members said they are committed to preserving their workforce, however it will take much longer for venues, production companies and promoters to fully resume business once the immediate public health emergency has passed.
They’re asking for targeted relief for the public entertainment and event industry through the CARES act in the form of customized criteria for workforce restoration, saying it’s necessary to address longer-term challenges.
Additionally, the coalition is requesting that the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Association establish a working group with members of the entertainment industry “to put forth voluntary guidelines that can be implemented by venues,” adding, “Organizations that comply with these guidelines should receive protection from COVID-19-related lawsuits.”
The coalition is the second live entertainment effort to lobby Congress for financial assistance. More than 800 independent building owners and promoters formed the National Independent Venue Association to lobby for assistance.
Earlier in April, a letter was sent to Congress from National Independent Venue Association, and it included such groups as the Endurance Sports Coalition, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, the International Association of Venue Managers, the National Association of Theater Owners, and the Society of Independent Show Organizers, according to Billboard.
Several venues and events companies have been hit by lawsuits. A suit was filed against Live Nation and Ticketmaster over the refund policy for concert tickets, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Court papers filed on March 14 argued that the companies retroactively changed their policy from saying refunds were available if the event is “postponed, rescheduled or canceled” to say that they’re available only if canceled.
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To counteract the shutdown and loss of revenue, many event companies are looking for deals and for other ways to hold events.
Under one newly inked deal, gaming and esports brand HyperX will partner with Red Light Management’s gaming subsidiary HIT COMMAND for upcoming live and online streaming events.
“The agreement will merge HyperX’s gaming and esports background with HIT COMMAND’s expertise in the music industry, along with its skills at developing music events and festivals both live and online,” Billboard reported.
HyperX will provide support for product sponsorships, artist gifting, helping artists set up live streams, as well as general brand support for online opportunities, such as large-scale live stream events.
In another deal, the government of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has acquired a 5.7 percent, $500-million stake in Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This amounts to 12,337,569 shares, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Live Nation’s share price jumped by more than 2 percent in the first few minutes of trading based on the announcement.
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