Live Industry Leaders Offer COVID Vaccine Distribution Aid In Joint Letter To President Biden
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images – Biden vaccine
President Joe Biden gets his first COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 21 in Delaware. Live industry leaders banded together to send him a Jan. 26 letter offering venues and staffs to help facilitate nationwide vaccinations.
A meme making the rounds of social media over the last two weeks reads: “If the live industry was tasked with vaccine distribution we would have had it done in a weekend, sold t-shirts and beer and a meet n greet with Fauci.”
On Jan. 26, a coalition of live event leaders offered in a letter to President Joe Biden to make at least the premise of that meme — tasking the live industry with vaccine distribution — happen.
AEG Presents, 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), Pollstar parent company Oak View Group (OVG), and We Make Events formally offered their venues, staff, and expertise to the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
“It’s human nature to come together in good times and bad, and our industry is committed to doing everything in our power to bring people together again – not just for events, but for every aspect of community that we have been missing,” said Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment. “Live Nation has venues across the country that are capable of managing critical onsite elements of the vaccine rollout and we are eager to pitch in and be part of the solution.”
Even though the pandemic has shuttered virtually the entire live events industry, it is in a unique position to help speed the vaccination effort that is the key to restoring business.And with venues empty and furloughed crowd-management staff and venue operators eager to help and get back to work, the offer represents a win-win for the industry and the public.
“From the outset of the pandemic, many months ago, it was clear to us that the ultimate resolution has always been to inoculate the general public, and to reassure each and every one that it is safe to return to community activities, including live music and the performing arts,” says NITO President Frank Riley of the effort. “The pandemic has rendered everyone in the live events community helpless and sidelined. In order to allow many successful businesses and workers a safe and appropriate restart, we all need to join together and utilize our vast resources for vaccination sites, promotion and publicity through our outlets, and offer the full breadth of our collective industry to inform the general public.”
NIVA board president Dayna Frank added, ““Since the pandemic shuttered our industry almost a year ago, our buildings and our co-workers have been paused, unutilized, and struggling” said Dayna Frank, owner & CEO, First Avenue Productions and Board President of NIVA. “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.”
It’s not just a case of making a meme come true. A source with knowledge of the background tells Pollstar it was weeks in the making among several of the participants who in the end united to make a powerful offer.
The letter to President Biden in full:
Dear Mr. President,
Congratulations to you and Vice President Harris on an inauguration signifying the unity and hope necessary to move America forward. As you set about achieving the ambitious goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days, we wish to offer the full support and resources of the live event industry. We share your vision of expedient, equitable, and widespread vaccine distribution. It is our duty, as businesses rooted in communities across the nation, to do our part to set America on a positive path during this time of crisis. We stand ready to work with Federal and State governments to save lives and get America back to work and school.
We represent businesses, workers and entertainers that make up the majority of the live event industry. 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.
We are here to help. In fact, many venues are already working on the State and Local level to implement vaccine programs. Our industry has thousands of venues throughout America that are under mandated closures and sitting empty. Event venues make ideal community vaccination sites: they are located in most urban, suburban and rural communities, often near transit lines and with easy access to parking. Our interiors are clear span with bright work lights and empty standard refrigeration systems. Due to the nature of our business, our buildings and workforce are accustomed to patron queuing and crowd management.
Live events is one of the best prepared, best equipped, most experienced industries in America to manage and control large crowds in a rapid, organized fashion. Moving people in, out, and around a public gathering space swiftly and safely is the foundation of our industry. Additionally, our familiarity using ticketing systems for advanced notification, timed entry and crowd management can greatly improve patient experience before and during vaccination as well as on-site management. There are several thousand companies in the live event industry which own the equipment and infrastructure required to build vaccination sites. An estimated 95% of live events industry businesses and workers have lost nearly 100% of their revenue, and are ready and willing to get to work immediately. These organizations can design, deliver, and manage the infrastructure as well as the people needed to staff them.
We have been closed for nearly one full year to protect public health. Please let us now go to work to protect public health. We share your goal to get America back to work, school and in gathering places of all kinds quickly and safely. We are ready to meet to discuss how we can help as soon as you and your staff are able.
Venues are specifically designed for queuing and crowd control, and are located in most urban, suburban, and rural communities – often near transit lines or with easy access to parking. The interiors are wide and clear, with bright work lights and empty standard refrigeration systems. Additionally, the inherent use of ticketing systems for advanced notification, timed entry, and crowd management in live events lends itself directly to managing this type of process.
“The entire live event industry has stood still since March, 2020.” says Bandit Lites Chair Michael T. Strickland. “We all stand united now, ready to assist in the safe, rapid delivery of the vaccine from a people moving perspective.”
“We are here to help. In fact, many venues are already working on the State and Local level to implement vaccine programs.” said Wayne Forte, NITO executive committee member and president of Entourage Talent Associates. “Our industry owns, leases and/or has access to thousands of venues throughout America, most that are under mandated closures and sitting empty. Event venues make ideal community vaccination sites.”