Recent Event Postponement Highlights Dire Situation of Live Events Industry

'Together Again' Expo was supposed to take place at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Friday to demonstrate safety protocols for the live event sector

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One of the first events at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas since it closed in March was supposed to kick off Friday.

The "Together Again" Expo was meant to demonstrate how live events can happen safely but it was suddenly postponed.

It wasn't canceled because the city told them to or because of new COVID-19 rules. Some events are slowly picking up again across the country but it simply costs money to run them.

And the businesses involved in live events are running out of money fast.

The bigger story here is just how bad this live event industry is hurting right now.

"This has been our livelihoods. It's just really devastating to have your livelihood taken away by something so totally out of your control," said Laurie Sprouse, chairperson of the Texas Live Events Coalition. "Everybody’s just hanging on by their fingertips now. So it’s a tough time."

She said a few weeks ago, the national arm of her organization, Live Events Coalition, did a survey with 1,200 businesses across the country. They found out almost 50 percent reported that without further stimulus support from the government, they would most likely shut down permanently by the end of December.

Sprouse said 80% reported they've lost 100 percent in revenue since the pandemic began. With federal relief efforts stalled, live event workers & businesses are missing out on up to $1 trillion in income due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

“Our industry really got shut down in March. Not partially, but completely shut down," she said.

Click here to read the full survey.

The coalition considers live events the 'invisible industry' because it represents as many as 12 million people.

That includes everyone who works trade shows, live concerts, expos, festivals, fundraisers, yearly conventions, and even weddings.

“It’s the truck drivers that drive the props long distances, the people growing florals that we use on all of these pieces -- it’s just this huge swath of economy that is devastated by the live events industry being shut down," Sprouse said.

From transportation, equipment rental, set up, and catering to lighting, video and audio needs -- based off the the coalition's data, it is believed these workers represent approximately 40% of the currently unemployed. Many of them are freelancers without any benefits.

"It really spans a huge segment of the industry that is just completely shut down right now," said Sprouse. "Unfortunately with the lack of stimulus financial and financial aid coming from Congress right now, our industry is hurting so badly. With so many small businesses on the brink that that with that stimulus not coming, it really just became very hard for us to move forward with together again expo."

The "Together Again" expo at the convention center is reset for Jan. 15, 2021.

TLEC is partnering with Alliance Nationwide Exposition, VisitDallas and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for the event. Organizers hope to demonstrate how trade shows and live events may happen safely and responsibly during the pandemic. The event is designed to test and evaluate the safety protocols outlined in the convention center's new Global BioRisk Advisory Council (GBAC) accreditation it received this year.

The expo will take a hybrid approach to live events with a mix of virtual presentations and a socially distant trade show.

But Sprouse warned even that new date in January is up in the air as they don't know what the new year brings when it comes to federal aid or new vaccine.

“We all really understood why we had to shut down for everyone's safety back in the spring. We understand different states are shut down to different degrees now and that’s understandable," she said. “But we really need the support of the government to help us -- now. And it really can’t wait until after the election."

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