This past week, an industry built on public demand created some of its own in an organized nationwide push that can be felt from Bradley to – potentially – Congress.
Last Tuesday, the Bradley University Tech Crew (BUTC) participated in “Red Alert RESTART,” a call to action from the entire American live events industry.
According to the website of event-organizing coalition We Make Events (WME), the industry embodies over 12 million people and carries over $1 trillion of annual economic impact. Its struggles have been similar in magnitude: 96 percent of companies have reduced staff and/or wages while 77 percent of industry workers have lost all income.
The event brought members together by lighting up buildings and structures in red. Participants around the Midwest area included the Peoria Civic Center, the Fox Theater and the Guthrie Theater.
“If we’re doing our jobs right, you don’t see us,” a WME poster shared by BUTC said. “But now we need you to see us.”
“The goal is just to raise awareness that the entertainment industry … [is] under extreme pressures right now,” Cierra Conrad, BUTC team leader and senior theatre production major, said.
While it functions as a sign of solidarity, “RESTART” also had several other equally important causes. It strove to get the attention of politicians, namely through rallying for Congress to pass the RESTART Act, a bill designed to offer financial aid to small businesses through loans.
Another demand was extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Programs for displaced workers, as their benefits are slated to end in late December.
“We were the first industry to be shut down by COVID, and we’re going to be the last industry to return,” Conrad said.
Conrad is also an employee at the Civic Center which regularly hires other BUTC members. Almost six months without work took a toll on all of them.
“A lot of them depended on that cash to make the bills a little bit easier for the month,” Conrad said. “A lot of them are just trying to make ends meet this semester.”
The group has mainly been keeping busy this semester through collaborations with the university’s AV Club and ACBU, making live-streamed events and working through proposals for events such as drive-in movies.
Upon hearing about “RESTART” from Conrad, BUTC was quick to take action. As the crew is composed of various majors – theatre, engineering, computer science – she found that all members were able to join together.
BUTC and the wider number of “RESTART” participants take firm root in this concept of togetherness, both in the sense of irreversibly affected workers banding together and members of the public becoming informed.
Looking ahead, she said that BUTC will continue having signs and posters of “RESTART” in their office to engage members of the Bradley community and spread awareness during the pandemic.
“Everyone consumes entertainment,” Conrad said. “Explaining what’s going to happen before it happens will allow the public to understand the impact of COVID not only on themselves but what they’re consuming each day.”
For more information visit www.wemakeevents.org.