Okanagan venues light up for visibility amid pandemic

Impact of COVID-19 on live event workers sparks Canadian movement

Thousands of entertainment venues across the country have remained closed or limited since March 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And with it, hundreds of thousands of live event worker have lost their livelihoods.

An organization has been formed to support these Canadians and bring light to the situation so many are facing. Live Event Community has organized a Day of Visibility on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

One hour after sundown from coast-to-coast, hundreds of theatres, public venues and performing arts facilities will light their exteriors in red to raise public and government awareness for an industry that is still dark – and will be one of the last to fully open and recover. Throughout the evening, images and video will be shared across social media using the hashtags #LightUpLive to boost visibility.

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, Kelowna Community Theatre, Salmon Arm’s Bespoke Group and South Okanagan Events Centre will join the list of participating buildings (accessible at lightuplive.ca/map) that includes Canada’s prestigious performance venues, major arenas and iconic landmarks like the CN Tower, Calgary Tower, Niagara Falls, Rogers Arena, Roy Thompson Hall, the Grand Théâtre de Québec, Confederation Centre of the Arts, SaskTel Centre, Stratford Festival Theatre and the Royal Theatre in Victoria.

“This grassroots movement has seemed to catch fire,” Live Event Community co-founder and industry veteran Morgan Myler said. “Our goal is to ensure the government acknowledges that our industry has been uniquely impacted by the effects of COVID-19, and that it will continue to offer financial support for live event workers and companies throughout the supply chain until large gatherings are once again deemed safe and the industry comes back to life.”

READ MORE: Fewer people but more visits added to Vernon Museum

At VDPAC, since March, the theatre was forced to re-schedule or postpone indefinitely 87 shows with no firm date in sight of re-opening for full public performances.

“We immediately signed-on to CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program) to retain 13 full time staff since March 15. Our staff has worked hard to assure and assist artists, ticketholders, volunteers and tour promoters during this uncertain time” executive director Jim Harding said. “Although we will return in the interim with small-scale OnSTAGE Concerts for 50 people and begin live-streaming performances online this fall, we are a key part of the provincial and national network of venues that host touring professional artists so it is vital to participate in this initiative; and also to show a clear signal to all levels of government that the performing arts is not only a major contributor to the health and wellness of our communities, but also a significant economic contributor as well. While other sectors may re-open and recover sooner, like the tourism industry, the cultural industry will need continued financial assistance until it’s safe for the public to return in force — and they want to.”

“Our industry is in a crisis. The arts are integral to a healthy community. We need continued financial support for live event workers until the industry is back to work,” artistic director Erin Kennedy said.

With no current re-opening date, VDPAC’s Ticket Seller box office has been keeping patrons informed on re-booking’s through the Ticketseller.ca website.

READ MORE: Vernon talent airs for Top of the Country


@VernonNews
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