An Empty Event Rally Represents 12 Million Event Workers As San Diego Calls For Government Assistance

Event businesses, gig workers and event aficionados united this past Thursday, August 13th at the San Diego County Administration Center to fight for industry support as bans on mass gatherings decimate the business of live experiences. A collective of event planners, venues and vendors, led by the San Diego Event Coalition, joined forces to rally for awareness of the overlooked event industry and to call for financial aid and guidance from local, State and Federal leadership.

The Empty Event Rally consisted of an elaborate pop-up venue construction with 48 tables each representing 250,000 Events Industry workers out of work due to Covid-19 with 480 empty seats representing the positions of those workers that cannot be performed. A LED screen displayed video and messaging for the Nationwide Empty Event effort that has been ignited in cities from New York to Washington D.C. to Denver to L.A. and now San Diego.

In-person and virtual comments were made by local elected officials and industry leaders expressing the vital need for urgent action to Save Live Events and the grave impact the destruction of this industry has and will continue to have on the local and national economies.

Speakers included:

Jim Desmond, San Diego County Supervisor
Laurel McFarlane, CEO of McFarlane Promotions Inc.
Martha Henderson, Treasurer of San Diego Pride
Amy Ulkutekin, owner of Catalyst Creative and First Comes Love

Events are economic drivers of our community, vital fundraisers for local charities and spaces for cultural celebration. The total Government shutdown of events means the industry has been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with no certainty of a change in the foreseeable future.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses, employees and attendees have faced the catastrophic effects of bans on mass gatherings. With over 12 million events industry workers nationwide and an estimated 200,000 unemployed event workers in San Diego alone, industry projections show an 80% loss on revenue until restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted.

Throughout the rally, physical distancing was maintained and masks were required. A Clean Team showcase highlighted the safety and sanitation protocols the San Diego Event Coalition is working to outline for future events. The streets were lined with dozens of empty box trucks from local event vendors representing the out of work businesses and employees of a City known for a year-round line-up of outdoor events.

The rally made no effort to solicit the authorization of events until Public Health Officials have deemed it safe for the public. Rather the focus of the rally was to target legislators, policymakers, and those who influence them, to reinforce the extent of the damage to the industry and the need for assistance. The San Diego Events Coalition stands with an alliance of events industry professionals, spearheaded by the Live Events Coalition, in requesting relief in the following key areas to keep the industry alive:

An updated and improved PPP program allowing for second round forgivable funding and designed with special consideration for the events industry and industry workers.

Ability for event businesses to reapply for additional EIDL funding based on need.
Additional aid on the Federal level targeted to support the events industry.
Extension of additional unemployment benefits.
20 percent of San Diego County Grant funds set aside as aid for businesses and independent contractors within the event industry who have been most impacted.
Priority made to defining a roadmap to safely reopening events in collaboration with industry leaders.

The San Diego Event Coalition will continue to focus on building awareness for the industry with elected officials, campaigning for financial assistance for businesses and employees until events are possible again, and developing a roadmap of safety and sanitation protocols for events in the future. The events industry was the first to be impacted by pandemic-related restrictions and will be last to enter reopening phases.

If we want to keep businesses open and skilled workers in the trade, the industry that has designed your favorite experiences and helped you create countless memories, now needs your help.

For more information and the latest updates on efforts of the San Diego Event Coalition, please visit HERE.

Stay healthy, San Diego!