Businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley lit their buildings red on Tuesday night to raise awareness for the live events industry, which is on “red alert” for its very survival amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The live events industry has been shuttered since the start of the pandemic, putting millions out of work, and with theaters, concerts and other live events still closed, the entire industry continues to be impacted.
A Brookings Institute economic report estimated a loss of 2.7 million jobs, along with the loss of more than $150 billion in sales of goods and services, for creative industries nationwide.
Among those affected are Santa Clarita-based Illumination Dynamics, a lighting and electric rental production company for television, motion picture, sports broadcast and studio installations; and A V Party Rentals, a wedding, party and event store, both of which took part in the nationwide call to action.
The Red Alert movement, led by We Make Events, Red Alert RESTART and Extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, is imploring Congress to pass the RESTART Act, or Senate Bill 3814, which would offer economic relief to the live events industry, as well as supporting extending pandemic unemployment assistance.
A V Party Rentals
A V Party Rentals has been operating in the SCV for 40-plus years, and never in that time has company President Rusty Parr seen such devastation in the live events industry.
“We were literally the first to be affected, and we’ll be the last to recover — it’s that bad,” Parr said. “It’s not something we did, it’s a circumstance that’s out of our control … but there’s a lot of people that are truly affected by it in just one industry.”
Parr applied for and received Paycheck Protection Program funding under the CARES Act, which helped, but now the funding has run out.
“Our goal back in March was to make it to June, and here we are starting month six with no end in sight,” Parr added. “We’re seeing it picking up slightly, but it’s still not enough to make ends meet … and we only need our employees for about half the time that we normally did.”
Even so, Parr is grateful for the SCV community, which has helped to keep them afloat.
“We’ve developed a lot of relationships here in Santa Clarita, and we’re really appreciative of those who are contacting us for even the small stuff,” he said. “That has been a godsend for us.”
For Parr, participating in the Red Alert was a way for businesses across the nation to come together in solidarity.
“We’re all trying to make the best of it with what we can, but trying to keep staff and keep a business alive is difficult,” he said.
Carly Barber, CEO and president of Illumination Dynamics, moved to Newhall from London in 1984.
“I just love it out here, love the community and all the open space,” Barber said. “I like the Western heritage and also the historical connection Newhall has to the motion picture and television industry, so the opportunity to move Illumination Dynamics out to Needham Ranch was just a great opportunity for us.”
The company moved to the SCV in December and was really just getting going when the pandemic shut everything down in March.
“In years gone by, when there’s been a recession or depression, the entertainment industry has weathered the storm somewhat because the need for content is there for people who are struggling,” Barber added. “But this is really a dramatic impact on our industry. There’s no doubt.”
The company, which furloughed much of its shop staff when business came to a standstill, is slowly starting to bring them back little by little now as the company’s business has begun to pick back up again.
“We have a great team of people … and everybody has just pulled together,” Barber said. “For us, I feel blessed that we are so diverse across different markets, but clearly, there’s a piece of our business that won’t be there for some months to come.”
With so many facets of the industry still completely shut down, Barber said they were moved to participate in the Red Alert to highlight the “dramatic and drastic effect” the pandemic has had and continues to have on the industry.