The Performing Arts are in a Coma

For months I’ve been having conversations with friends and colleagues in the arts about our impending loss. As the world of live entertainment remains shuttered the questions are clear: What arts organizations are we going to lose this time? What entertainment professionals – performers, directors, designers, musicians, dancers, technicians and all of the rest – are we going to lose because they simply cannot wait for work to return? How many are going to leave their calling and turn to another career simply because they have to do something else to put food on the table?

On Saturday an article in the New York Times gave us a glimpse of the answer.

During the quarter ending in September, when the overall unemployment rate averaged 8.5 percent, 52 percent of actors, 55 percent of dancers and 27 percent of musicians were out of work, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. By comparison, the jobless rate was 27 percent for waiters; 19 percent for cooks; and about 13 percent for retail salespeople over the same period.

Real people are suffering real harm and the president and the republican party have been uninterested since Day 1. One of my friends, a Broadway stagehand, is now working in the stock room at Williams Sonoma. Another, a production manager, is taking well over $1,000 per month out of his retirement accounts to keep his growing debt manageable. A third, a designer, has become a house husband, living off of his spouse who (thankfully) is still employed.

“My fear is we’re not just losing jobs, we’re losing careers,” said Adam Krauthamer, president of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians in New York. He said 95 percent of the local’s 7,000 members are not working on a regular basis because of the mandated shutdown. “It will create a great cultural depression,” he said.

While the president has finally signed the relief bill, the break in benefits will be a burden to many. More importantly, giving $600 to people who are already employed doesn’t help those who aren’t. Targeted relief to those who need it most would have been a much smarter response.

The performing arts are in a coma. No one knows when they will receive some sort of life support. If you are able, consider making an end of year donation to one of these worthy charities.

Actors Fund currently has a $50,000 match offer, doubling your gift! Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund is a national human services organization here to meet the needs of our entertainment community with a unique understanding of the challenges involved in a life in the arts. Services include emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care and insurance counseling, senior care, secondary career development and more.

Behind The Scenes provides financial assistance to entertainment technology professionals in need due to serious illness or injury.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS funding supports AIDS relief organizations, national disaster relief, food service and meal delivery programs, research initiatives, emergency assistance, and more. This year, BC/EFA also established the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, administered by The Actors Fund, to help entertainment professionals facing health care crises and other immediate needs due to the coronavirus.

If you’re looking for other options, Playbill has list of 40 theatre-related charities you can consider.

Red Alert September 1

Red Alert is a nationwide event taking place on September 1, 2020 to call attention to the plight of all live event/entertainment workers who have no work, no income and seemingly nowhere to turn for help. Consider this:

  • Live events employ over 12 million people.
  • Live events contributes over $1 trillion annually to the US economy.
  • 95% of live events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
  • 96% of companies have cut staff and/or wages.
  • 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers.

On September 1st, 2020, #WeMakeEvents, a coalition of trade organizations, businesses, unions, and live events workers, will light up their venues, homes, and cities in red at over 1,500 locations across North America to raise public and media awareness in support of the live events.

That’s a great idea! How can I help?

  1. Share your story about what live events mean to you, whether you’re on stage, backstage, or in the audience.
  2.  Light up your home, porch, apartment, etc. in RED on September 1 — be sure to take photos and share them on social media!

Is this for real?

Absolutely! We personally know directors, designers, production managers, stage hands, stage managers and performers who haven’t worked since March, and who have no expectation of going back to work before March of 2021 at the earliest. Yes, unemployment insurance has been extended (at least in New York), but without the extra $600 unemployment for many is only enough to cover rent – so all other expenses have to be paid with savings, for as long as savings last. How many of us have enough savings to cover 12 months of expenses? And let’s face it, with an average of one million new unemployment claims every week for over 20 weeks, almost no one is going to “Find Something New”.

All of the theatres that Studio T+L has designed over the years are dark. The venues that are in construction will sit empty when they are finished. We know that many people are hit hard by the economic impact of the corona virus, but the entire live entertainment industry closed. Please do what you can to help!

Thank You!

Congratulations Ed McCarthy! (again)

Our own Ed McCarthy has received his fifth Emmy nomination!  Ed was part of the lighting team for the 73rd Annual Tony Awards.  The team’s work has been nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special.  Ed’s previous nominations were for lighting of the Tony Awards in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019.  Congratulations, Ed!

What Do Broadway’s Best Lighting Designers Actually Do?

I missed this article in Forbes when it was first published last fall, but it’s a great overview of a stage lighting designer’s role as told by some of today’s leading designers.

Osram Discontinues and Recalls Large PAR Lamps

Osram Sylvania has announced that they are discontinuing the manufacture of large PAR lamps (i.e. PAR46, PAR56 and PAR64).  They have also announced a voluntary recall of all large PAR lamps manufactured since November 2016.

According to Mark DeLorenzo, Entertainment Business Unit Manager at Osram, previous to November 2016 all large PARS were made in the USA, but that factory is closed and the equipment no longer exists.  Their only manufacturing facility for these lamps is in China, and they have had such terrible quality control issues that they don’t see an alternative but to cease manufacturing.  

GE is no longer making these lamps, either.  I don’t see them on the Philips web site, although I do see off brands available at some online retailers but a quick search finds no 1000W PAR64s.  So, we’re coming up on the end of an era.  The inexpensive and sturdy PAR is being replaced by products like the Source4 PAR and various LED units.