Carpenter Center shines red in solidarity with live events industry’s struggle during pandemic

The Carpenter Performing Arts Center joined with more than 1,500 performance venues across the country, Tuesday night, by lighting its building red for Red Alert RESTART Day of Action, to raise awareness of the many live event venues and performing arts organizations that have taken a financial hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The public has heard how artists are directly affected by the temporary closure of venues, but behind the artists on stage are countless production crews, lighting crews, front of house, stage managers and administrative staff who have lost their jobs, as well as venues that are closing down, possibly permanently,” said Carpenter marketing director Olivia Sather. “The Carpenter Center is a part of California State University, Long Beach, so we are in a slightly different situation, but to say that the situation is dire for the live events industry is an understatement.”

The Martha B Knoebel Dance Theater at CSULB shines red in solidarity with the live events industry. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Photo by Asia Morris.

Organized by WeMakeEvents, a coalition raising awareness of the live event industry’s struggles due to shuttered venues and canceled performances, its #RedAlertRESTART campaign aims to push Congress to pass The RESTART Act organized by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) that, on its website, claims that its members are experiencing a 90% revenue loss and figure to be closed well into 2021. RESTART would go beyond PPP because, according to NIVA, such programs “do not work for venues and community theatres, which are completely shuttered small businesses in need of long-term support that provides flexibility for the use of funds due to high overhead costs.”

“The entire live events industry is on the brink of collapse,” said Brad Nelms, director of WeMakeEvents North America, in an announcement. “Without financial relief, many businesses stand to permanently close, and families risk bankruptcy and homelessness. We want to take this opportunity to show the world the scale of what it takes to make live entertainment events happen and demonstrate how much this crisis has affected our community.”

On August 11, venues across the U.K. held a “Red Alert Day” to raise awareness of the struggling state of its live events industry. It was the Carpenter Center’s Production Manager Kathyrn Havey and Technical Supervisor Jonathan Mulvaney, who were informed about Red Alert Day by their colleagues across the region, as well as from trade publications, including American Theatre.

“Our resident theatre company, Musical Theatre West, also reached out to us to light the building red as we come together in support of our colleagues and fellow venues in the industry,” Sather said. “We hope people will take time to follow the hashtags, visit the wemakeevents.org website, and learn more about the impact that the pandemic is having on this industry, one of the first to shut down and one of the last that will be able to reopen.”

The Long Beach Arena and Terrace Theater. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Photo by Asia Morris.

Thanks to its donors, The Carpenter Center has been able to focus on bringing its ongoing Arts for Life program to viewers virtually, transitioning in May from offering what were interactive, in-person arts activities to interactive online happenings. Its Classroom Connections program is also still available, virtually, to LBUSD students. Additionally, the center has shifted to serving as a resource for sharing arts news organizers feel the community might be interested in.

“This doesn’t make up for the loss of revenue from having in-person events, but we feel it’s vital that we continue to be a resource for our community, even when we can safely reopen our doors and share the experience of live performances again,” Sather said.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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