If you drive by the Long Center on Friday and see a panoply of tables, chairs, stages and technical gear set up on the venue’s terrace and lawn, it’s not for a performance. But that’s exactly what the Texas Live Events Coalition is hoping will come to mind.
The latest in a series of "Empty Event" installations that have taken place in cities including Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., in recent weeks, the Austin version will be from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.
"While the event will be silent, and unattended, it will be on display to demonstrate the powerful emptiness the industry is experiencing," the state LEC chapter noted in a press release announcing the Empty Event.
The goal is to attract attention to the live event industry’s hardships during the coronavirus pandemic as federal, state and local government efforts to help businesses deal with the pandemic’s effects continue.
"Most people have no idea how big our industry is," Texas LEC chair Laurie Sprouse said. "We literally touch and affect every other industry through meetings, conventions and trade shows, as well as positively impacting personal lives through weddings and social events, live entertainment and nonprofit fundraising events.
"But our industry is being decimated by the pandemic. It is truly the hardest hit, the first to be fully shut down, and it will be among the last to fully reopen. Our industry, with its 12 million workers, needs help in order to survive."
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Several proposals are currently being considered in Congress, including the $10 billion Save Our Stages act, co-sponsored by Texas Sen. John Cornyn and aimed at helping independent music venues; and the broader Restart Act, which would assist a variety of hard-hit businesses.
The Texas LEC’s Austin event also seeks to draw attention to possible extensions or enhancements to the Payroll Protection Program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.