The owners of live music industry and performing arts venues, along with many groups tied to live entertainment, are offering their mostly empty arts spaces and services in support of the nation’s vaccination full court press that’s aimed at insulating as many Americans as possible from coronavirus. This week they sent a letter to President Biden offering whatever assistance is needed to stem the deadly tide of coronavirus.
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) — a group that only formed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic but which now boasts more than 3,000 members, spread across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. — is helping spearhead the effort.
“Since the pandemic shuttered our industry almost a year ago, our buildings and our co-workers have been paused, unutilized, and struggling,” Dayna Frank, the owner & CEO of First Avenue Productions and Board President of NIVA, wrote in the group’s press release. “These vaccines are our best chance at putting COVID-19 behind us, and our experiences organizing events and managing crowds now put us in the unique position of being the best prepared and most qualified industry to support the vaccination effort and get this country on the road to recovery.”
Perhaps no sector of the U.S. economy has been as devastated as the live event industry since coronavirus shut down much of the U.S. last spring. Unlike restaurants, they have no carry-out model to fall back on. Most of these hallowed spaces have been resigned to merely collecting cobwebs since the pandemic struck last March.
Biden and his new administration hope to get 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. Then they hope most Americans who want a vaccine will be able to get them by the summer. Those currently ambitious goals bring with them the promise of a “return to normalcy.”
That would undoubtedly benefit the live event industry tremendously. The group isn’t shy about their desire, even need, to get America back to normal.
“We represent businesses, workers, and entertainers that make up the majority of the live event industry,” reads part of their letter to President Biden. “While we have been effectively shuttered by the pandemic, we have vast resources that, if fully utilized, could provide invaluable mechanisms in our country’s vaccine distribution. In fact, because we are shuttered, we are able to offer the full weight of our industry to support vaccine distribution beginning immediately.”
Letter co-signers include AEG, Bandit Lites, Broadway League, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), Live Nation, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO), the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Oak View Group (OVG), and We Make Events.
It’s unclear if the Biden-Harris administration will take these venue owners and their staff up on the offer. Government officials have already announced plans to deploy FEMA and the National Guard to set up vaccination clinics across the United States. Many venues are already working at the state and local level, according to NIVA, to help implement vaccination programs.
However, as stated in their letter to Biden, it’s clear that they, “Share [the] goal to get America back to work, school and in gathering places of all kinds quickly and safely.”