Advocates call for federal aid as live events industry flails

Coronavirus

The Live Events Industry of Oregon advocates for 35K workers dealing with financial fallout

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For Oregon’s live events industry, the pandemic is threatening to deal a fatal blow. Live events companies simply can’t turn to alternative business strategies the way many restaurants, bars and stores have. 

The Live Events Industry of Oregon is a coalition advocating for businesses and some 35,000 workers dealing with the financial fallout of COVID-19, including venues, rental companies, caterers, event planners and entertainers. 

“There are 12 million of us in the United States –– we represent a trillion dollars in revenues in this country,” said Dwayne Thomas, the president of the Live Events Industry of Oregon. “We have to go find work; if we can’t find it, we lose our houses, we lose years of our career.” 

Thomas said the live events industry, which injects $6 billion into Oregon’s economy each year, came to a grinding halt in March when Governor Kate Brown issued the stay-at-home order. 

“The degree to which we are closed is so much greater than almost every other business or industry,” Thomas said. 

If lawmakers don’t act quickly, Thomas estimates 4,000 event-related companies will be in danger of folding. But no help appears to be coming in the immediate future. 

“Right now, Congress is not set to give us anymore help,” he said. “We want to make sure they know there’s been some real damage that’s been done here.” 

Among other legislative priorites, Thomas’ group is calling on Congress to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Paycheck Protection Program. 

“They can’t seem to agree and if they go on recess in October that could be game, set, match,” said Thomas. “There’s a bunch of us who just won’t last past the election.”

Thomas is asking people to write and call their elected officials to demand quick action to protect the live events industry.  

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