Sep 17, 2020 | Arts, culture and heritage Festival and Event Industry Industry News
RBC Bluesfest organizers today announced their participation in ‘The Day of Visibility’ for the Live Event Community. Venues and landmarks across Canada will be lighting up in red, raising awareness for an industry that remains dark, due to the pandemic. The coast-to-coast event will run Tuesday, September 22, from an hour after sundown until midnight.
Festival House, on Churchill Avenue—which is home to the Team Behind Bluesfest—will be among the many buildings in Canada that will be ‘casting a light’ on the need for essential support for event workers not covered by traditional programs such as Employment Insurance.
“When we were invited to take part in this initiative, we jumped at the chance,” says Mark Monahan, the executive director of RBC Bluesfest, CityFolk, Marvest, and the Ontario Festival of Small Halls. “Festival House has become somewhat of a shrine to live music in Ottawa, so we’re very enthusiastic about lighting it up in order to emphasize the importance of the live music industry in Canada.”
“Early response has been overwhelming,” said Morgan Myler, co-founder of the ‘Live Event Community’ group, which formed in March as a result of the cancellation of events worldwide due to COVID-19. “The community has really come together, with individuals, organizations, and grassroots groups offering assistance. The plan is to illuminate landmarks in red, bringing to light the plight of the many performers, creators, and technical, logistical, and management support personnel who drive this $100 billion Canadian economic engine.”
According to Statistics Canada, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector lost 152,000 of 486,100 jobs between June 2019 and June 2020, and 86% of businesses experienced a high level of impact due to the decrease in demand or cancellation of services. Those that are still employed have seen a 45% reduction in hours worked.
“I’m always impressed to see how quickly the event industry can respond,” said another ‘Live Event Community’ cofounder, Rob Duncan. “People are really looking to do something; however symbolic it may be.”
Peter Eady, an Ottawa organizer with the Live Event Community group said he hopes The Day of Visibility, while symbolic, is the start of some real conversations about what needs to be done. “We need to start talking to government representatives responsible for health and safety about protocols for a safe return to work so that our industry isn’t shut down for any longer than necessary,” says Eady.