Tonight from 9pm through midnight, the facades of more than 100 venues across the Bay Area, like Moscone Center and Z Space in San Francisco, Oakland City Hall, Berkeley’s Greek Theater and San Jose Civic, will be lit up in red.
The light show is part of a national push dubbed #RedAlertRestart aimed at drawing public attention to the dire challenges facing the live events industry during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“This is a red alert to the nation,” says Bay Area stagehand and regional event organizer Maria Mendoza. “We contribute to the economy and we are in trouble.”
The live events industry contributed roughly $230 billion to the California economy in 2017, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The California Events Coalition estimates the industry will lose up to 80 percent in revenue, and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost to industry workers like stage managers, ticket-takers and valets in the Bay Area since March.
“Many of the people affected are the ones that are always dressed in black, that people don’t see,” Mendoza says. “But we are the spine of the industry.”
The organizers are also hoping tonight’s light display will urge Congress to pass the Restart Act to provide economic relief to live events producers and unemployed workers.
“The Restart bill would do a number of things,” says Brad Erickson, executive director of the regional performing arts support organization, Theatre Bay Area. “It would put more money into the PPP forgivable loans that came out through the Small Business Administration, and revive the $600 a week unemployment insurance that goes to many workers who have been thrown out of their jobs because of the pandemic in the performing arts, entertainment and live event industry.”
Some policymakers would like to see the Restart Act pass.
“Live music and performances are a key part of our district’s tourism economy,” says North Bay Congressman Mike Thompson, who co-sponsored the Restart Act. “This bill would give venues the capital they need now and the flexibility they need as they recover, and ensure they stay in business and keep us entertained for years to come.”