Red Alert RESTART lights up America
Wednesday, 2 September 2020
restart2Clockwise from left: The Empire State Building, Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, Union Station in Denver, Colorado, and Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas
USA - In an effort ranging from coast to coast - and also taking in the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans - the Red Alert RESTART event, organized by members of the live industry, cast a red glow on the night of 1 September. More than 1,600 buildings, iconic structures, and residences, as theatres, production houses, hotels, casinos, recording studios, opera houses, ballrooms, nightclubs, arenas, and individual homes were part of the event, which also included demonstrations in many cities.
The goal of #RedAlert RESTART is to urge Congress to vote for the RESTART Act and to support the efforts of by pushing for an extension and expansion of PUA benefits for 1099 and freelance workers, i.e. independent contractors; and an extension of the $600 FPUC as part of a comprehensive pandemic relief package.
A four-and-a-half-hour livestream on Facebook, hosted by lighting designer/programmer Christian Jackson, featured reports from many cities. In New York, where the illuminated structures included the Empire State building and the registry at Ellis Island, stagehands massed in Times Square with cases, making a powerful display of solidarity. A report from Buffalo took viewers to the Riviera Theatre, which went red inside and out. The skyline of Rochester, New York also went red.
In Trinidad, technicians used LED battens to spell out "WME," an allusion to the events #WeMakeEvents hashtag. In Boston, following an urgent message of support from Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys, technicians staged a moment of silence outside the convention centre, forming a 12-piece arrangement of LED battens, each of them standing for a million live events workers now unemployed.
Following reports from Cleveland and Youngstown, and a message from Mike Smith, of the Canadian TV series Trailer Park Boys, the scene shifted to Pittsburgh, where respondents weighed in from several locations including Heinz Hall and the local Vincent Lighting office. Viewers got to see displays and demonstrations in Omaha, Miami, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Birmingham, Alabama. A Nashville report included an account of a 144-vehicle parade, earlier in the day, and also featured a discussion with Michael Strickland, of Bandit Lites, who has been the industry's eyes and ears in Congressional negotiation.
Additional reports poured in from Chicago, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, where mayor Sylvester Turner was seen cheering on a case parade. Santa Fe, Phoenix, and Hawaii were also heard from. In Seattle, were the Paramount Theatre glowed red, another case parade was seen.
Vegas took the prize for panache, with an outdoor event featuring singing ("Fight Song"), dancing, acrobatics, and plenty of pyro. On a more sobering note, the staging area was filled with 68 pieces of truss, each one symbolizing a thousand locals out of work. Indeed, in each city, the message was clear: This industry was the first to shut down and will be the last to come back. If it is to remain intact, government relief -- including small business aid and a return of enhance unemployment -- is vital.
Nearly matching Vegas for showmanship, the San Francisco section was hosted by a drag performer, as 89 buildings in the Bay Area went red. The stream ended with a report from Los Angeles, followed by a fireworks display by Ultratec. (Earlier in the evening, Strickland released a strong letter of support from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, urging federal government action.)
Following the event, Strickland released the following letter to participants and allies of the event:
"This event exceeded all expectations and we had participation in, and emotion at, a level never seen. We are the Live Event professionals. Tonight we showed the world! Our goal was to send our legislators a clear message, and we did just that. We had cities, counties, media, venues, and thousands of people engaged across our great country. Everyone pulled out all the stops and made history tonight."
However, he added: "Remember, tonight is just the start. The next step is to answer all the call to actions in the next two weeks. We all must email and contact our senators and congresspeople every time we are asked. The weight of what we do is in the sheer volume of communication.
"We do have complete bipartisan support for RESTART and Enhanced Unemployment Insurance. There is no pushback to providing what we need.
"Here is what we must do now:
1. Assure that RESTART language is inserted into the next relief bill.
2. Assure that Enhanced Unemployment Insurance is included at $600 per week.
3. Assure that our legislators do indeed pass another relief bill in September.
"Those are our goals and they are very simple.
"Moving ahead, please answer every Call to Action from NAMM as well as other related organizations. A rising tide floats all boats.
"During the next two weeks we will be creating a package of pictures and videos. We will then broadcast this package to both the media and every Senator and Congressperson. Several of us will be in constant contact with the legislators in the next two weeks to shepherd this bill along.
"There is a lot of work to do in the next two weeks, and we will need the assistance of everyone one of you.
"Hold you head up and be strong.
"You do not lose until you quit.
"We will never quit!
"We are Live Events.
"We love what we do."

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