The live event industry was one of the first to come to a screeching halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But as the country reels from the outbreak’s effects and scrambles to secure the proper care and equipment to combat the virus, event companies are stepping up to aid coronavirus relief efforts.
Concert staging companies around the country with a knack for transforming raw spaces into a production haven are now using their expertise to help healthcare workers on the front lines. Creating makeshift hospital spaces equipped with necessary equipment is the new normal for many companies who would otherwise spend the coming weeks prepping for major festivals and concert tours.
“We’re an industry that moves faster than anyone. We’ll install an entire city on a blank slate,” Gallagher Staging CEO Joey Gallagher told the LA Times. “We have everything available: Wi-Fi, radios, generators, lighting, restrooms and wash stations. We can build a small city in a day or two, and that’s a need right now.”
Gallagher’s firm was slated to set up the stage production at Coachella. However, once the Indio-based bash was postponed, the domino-effect of widespread cancellations took off and put the industry at a standstill, leaving many without work. But as many quickly learned, there was still a need for work, albeit slightly different from typical event production projects.
In place of festivals and mainstream tours, staging crews are now building temporary hospital sites and tented structures to house excess patients. The are also working to provide foam beds and other crucial equipment medical professionals are finding increasingly scarce. Illinois staging pros Upstaging Inc. are now tasked at providing face-shielding masks instead of prepping concert stages for Billie Eilish, The Rolling Stones and more high-profile artists.
“[We’re] strangely well-equipped to do emergency services here and that’s what we’re going to do until we can get together and do live events again,” Upstaging Director of Live Events John Huddleston told local news outlet WGN9. “We’re pivoting quickly for the need.”
The essential work these companies are now providing for coronavirus relief does not necessarily minimize the toll of a live event industry on indefinite hiatus. Pandemic-caused cancellations come with major setbacks to to the industry, and could result in a loss of more than half a billion dollars when all is said and done. However, adapting event staff can take comfort in the life-saving services they are now at the forefront of.
“We can’t wait to get back to the concert business, because we love it,” Upstaging co-founder Robin Shaw told the LA Times. “Sometimes I go to bed crying at night. But we got a message from a woman in elder care wearing one of our masks, that said this was going to save people’s lives. I sat there and said ‘This is unbelievable, this might help people not die.'”