Buildings and landmarks in Reno, Sparks and around Northern Nevada turned scarlet for a few hours the night of Sept. 2 to bring attention to businesses that have shut down and people who were thrown out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Artown is spearheaded the local effort to “Paint Our Town Red” to shed a bright scarlet light on the need for the live events industry to get relief funding through the RESTART Act.
“One hundred percent of the local, regional and national live event industry has been impacted or prevented from drawing an income during the pandemic,” said Oliver X. marketing director for Artown. “This is a $1 trillion industry which feeds other industries. So when you have a live event, you have parking, restaurants, valets, taxi, ticketing, security and others. There is wide-ranging impact on multiple economies of scale.”
To gain national attention to the crisis, many Reno-Sparks hotels and landmarks were illuminated in red Tuesday night, Sept. 1 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The regional display was live-streamed nationwide, with reports and check-ins from 50 U.S. cities.
The effort was coordinated by We Make Events North America (#RedAlertRESTART), with an about 1,500 buildings lit in red in more than 50 U.S. cities from coast-to-coast. The goal: to raise public awareness about the economic plight of the live events industry, and to urge Congress to pass the RESTART Act as well as extend financial assistance to unemployed workers.
Oliver X. said those who wish to directly help local unemployed performance artists may do so through the From Reno With Love Artists’ Fund, but the main push of the Paint Our Town Red initiative was to raise awareness of the RESTART Act, now stalled in Congress.
Constituents asked to contact lawmakers
“It’s important to call, email or otherwise contact members of Congress about the RESTART Act,” he said. “Public support matters.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is on the Senate Finance Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would help small businesses affected by the pandemic, especially those who have been hit hardest and devastated by the shutdowns.
“The need for additional federal aid to help small and mid-sized businesses rebound from the corona virus pandemic is critical,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “… (RESTART) would provide small and mid-sized businesses with low-interest loans to cover six-months of payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses, and offers flexible terms for forgiveness based on how hard their businesses have been hit. This bipartisan effort would benefit many Nevadans.”
COVID-19 brought the curtains down in March
Stages, halls, clubs and most live-performance venues shut down in March when the COVID-19 lockdown began and haven’t reopened since, creating a financial crisis for the nation’s performance artists, events workers and related businesses and employees. The live events industry in North America employs 12 million people and has an estimated combined economic impact of nearly $1 trillion.
The statistics are grim:
- 98% of performance-related companies have cut staff
- 97% of freelancers have lost all of their income
- 77% of the people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their incomes
The buildings and landmarks in the Reno-Sparks area that participated in the Red Action Alert included: the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts; the Grand Sierra Resort; The Nugget Casino Resort; Bruka Theater; the Reno Arch; Reno’s BELIEVE sign, THE ROW, Reno; the LOVE sign at Renown Medical Center; Crux Events in Verdi; and Artown.
EDITOR'S NOTE: EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally posted in advance of the "Red Alert" event and was updated Sept. 2 after it took place.