Senate holds hearing on aid for theater and live entertainment

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(NewsNation Now) — Like so many businesses, the industry involved in live concerts, Broadway shows or other mass entertainment gatherings has seen a steep drop since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, senators were told the business is not just on the edge, it’s gone right off the cliff.

Think about the last time you attended one of these live concerts, well the pandemic has stopped the music.
95% of live events this year were canceled or postponed, according to the industry that says it employs more than 10 million people.

Representatives of the business on Monday said 70% of its workers have lost 100% of their incomes: performers, venue and festival workers, artistic teams, production crews, vendors and part-timers who make the show go on.

Ron Laffitte, the president of Patriot Management, was one of several representatives who asked Congress for aid targeted specifically to their industry so they can survive.

“Everyone employed in this industry is hurting, whether they work in the small towns or big cities, whether they work in independent venues or the biggest arenas – no one has been immune,” said Laffitte.

They called for passage of the Save Our Stages bill, legislation that would provide grants to producers, live event operators and theater owners. Democratic lawmakers favor it but so far the Republican-controlled Senate has not approved it.

Witnesses said additional relief is needed including the “restart” loan program that would extend the paycheck protection plan for four months.

Michael Strickland, who owns a lighting company said the industry will be among the last to rebound.

“A lot of the event industry is not going to be back until the vaccine takes hold and we have herd immunity, and that’s June, July, August, September, and that is simply payrolls, so what do we do for the rest of the time?” said Strickland.

There appears to be bipartisan support for the industry, with several senators voicing support but like Democrat Jon Tester from Montana, there was also frustration that it takes so long to get something passed.

“I don’t know if you guys are frustrated because we continue not to do anything, but it frustrates the hell out of me,” said Tester.

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