Iconic buildings and performing arts halls across the nation, including dozens in the Tampa Bay area, were glowing red Tuesday night in a distress signal to Congress to rescue the stages.
The effort, dubbed Red Alert, saw numerous buildings lit up in red lights, including Raymond James Stadium, the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Amalie Arena, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Tampa City Hall and the Tampa Theatre.
The red-light night was designed to call attention to one of the hardest-hit sectors since the pandemic took hold. Live performances, and the venues that house them, have been largely shuttered since mid-March and have been the last to reopen.
“While so many industries have been negatively impacted during the pandemic, live arts and music will be one of the hardest hit,” said Susan Crockett, CEO and president of Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. “Few venues can survive operating at 20 percent capacity or less for such a long period. The loss of jobs and cultural investment across the nation will be devastating to our communities.”
The red lights were the equivalent of sending up a flare, imploring Congress to pass the RESTART Act offering economic relief to the live events industry. Organizer WeMakeEvents.org is also urging Congress to expand the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, a CARES Act provision would provide additional funding for those on unemployment Insurance in the form of $600 a week.
It is estimated that 96 percent of the live events industry, employing as many as 12 million people, are currently out of work, furloughed or have lost up to 90 percent of their income. The world’s largest concert promoters have reported a 98 percent loss of revenue since the start of the pandemic. Once a robust $35 billion industry, the live events business was the first to close in mid-March and remains one of the last to re-open. Financial losses are estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
Downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk was bathed in a ruby glow as red lights burned from the Rivergate Tower, the Tampa Convention Center, Sparkman Wharf, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum. In downtown St. Petersburg, the Dali Museum, the Museum of Art and the Mahaffey Theater turned scarlet in support, similar to an April effort when the buildings turned blue in support of health care workers.
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Tampa’s Amalie Arena tweeted a picture of its building bathed in red light and added, “Due to public health concerns, live events will not return until sometime next year, making the RESTART Act an essential piece of legislation for the survival of our businesses.”
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa also lit up red and posted pictures on Twitter Tuesday night “to support the pros who dedicate their life to the stage.”
Across the nation, other iconic buildings also joined the effort. The Chicago Theatre and the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago were lit up in red from 9 p.m. to midnight, as was Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall in New York, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and sections of the Las Vegas strip.
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