VBC lit up in red, raising awareness for extended pandemic unemployment assistance

The concert hall was lit up in red lights as part of the red alert restart day of action.

Posted: Sep 2, 2020 1:52 AM
Updated: Sep 2, 2020 9:50 AM

Tuesday night, the Von Braun Center took part in a nationwide imitative to raise awareness about the economic hit the live events industry has taken during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The concert hall was lit up in red lights as part of the red alert restart day of action. 

The goal is to urge congress to pass the restart act, as well as extend pandemic unemployment assistance. We Make Events is the organization that started this nationwide initiative. 

Huntsville's organizer Justin Young has first-hand experience with the pandemic's impact on live events. 

"When COVID hit and the live event industry shut down, we were the first ones to shut down and we were probably the last one to shut down," Young said. 

Most people do not think too much about what happens before or after a show. However, for VBC's production supervisor Young, this call for action is about bringing awareness to an industry crippled by coronavirus.

"70,80,90 percent of the people in our industry went to zero income immediately," Young said. 

His hope is lawmakers will continue to provide economic relief to those whose jobs have nearly disappeared due to the pandemic. 

"Our income has basically been cut in half and we're making it through," Contractor Andrew Burton said. "But I could not imagine those people who only do industry stuff trying to make it through."

Burton is a contractor, mainly dealing with lighting and audio. He said if it was not for his wife's income, he would have to find a new industry entirely.

Luckily performers like Josh Allison found a way to keep an income flowing by live streaming. 

"It was a circus of uncertainty because there was something new every coming out of the curtain," Allison said. 

Allison is aware he was able to find a new avenue for performing, but it does not include much help behind the scenes.

"I mean I hate to say it like this, but I'm glad I'm not a sound or lighting guy because if I was, I would have to find something else," Allison said. 

While you may never see them in the spotlight, without people like Burton and Young, the show as we knew it, can't go on. 

"I'm just looking forward to spreading out awareness about what we are, who we are, because we've always been people behind the scenes, you know in the shadows, making sure things go right for our artists," Burton said. "But in a time like this its time for us to be heard, we want to be seen."

Young adds this economic impact goes beyond just the workers, live events also bring revenue to other businesses in downtown Huntsville. 

Until big events can be held, places like the Mars Music Hall are hosting socially distanced concerts every weekend.

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