A movement that started in the UK has traveled the globe and landed on Vancouver Island, thanks in part to the efforts of a popular local sound engineer.
Doug Lyngard, owner of DL Sound, has become the Victoria representative for the Live Event Community group, who are bringing an international awareness campaign to Canada. It’s called Day of Visibility for the Live Event. #LightUpLive, as it has been hashtagged, is scheduled for Tuesday, September 22, beginning from an hour after sundown, coast to coast.
It follows similar campaigns that have happened in the UK, Germany, and the USA.
On that night, dozens of venues and landmarks in Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo and Campbell River – including the Royal Theatre, Royal BC Museum, Strathcona Hotel and Belfry Theatre in Victoria – will light up their buildings and marquees in red as an homage to the entertainers and crew who bring live events to residents across Vancouver Island.
It also draws attention to locations that have been dark for over six months due to social distancing restrictions.
Live event workers are encouraged to participate using social media, and participating venues and installations can be registered and tracked on an interactive map at the event website.
#LightUpLive highlights a struggling industry that needs public support
Lyngard says he got involved to bring awareness to both government and the general public on the important role the live event industry plays in the economy. “We need our community to help push the government for help with the survival of the arts, cultural and live events in BC and Canada,” he says. “We know sending letters to local government will be a big help and sharing posts on social media as well.”
Live Event Community was created this past March in the aftermath of mass event cancellations across North America due to COVID-19. Live event freelancers were worried that their livelihood had disappeared overnight. Four live event professionals in Toronto set up a website and launched a social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook to provide a vetted source of information available to all.
They also began advocacy work to lobby the government for recognition that the industry has been devastated by the effects of COVID-19, with no set date for return, and that government continue financial support for live event workers until the industry is back to work, as well as for those companies throughout the supply chain whose work is integral to the live event industry.
The community group says early response to their advocacy and awareness efforts have been overwhelming, with organizations, grassroots groups and individuals collaborating on signing up venues and assisting with illuminating landmarks in red, bringing to light the many performers, creators, technical, logistical, and management support personnel who drive a $100 billion Canadian economic engine.
“This grassroots movement has seemed to catch fire,” says Morgan Myler, co-founder of Live Event Community group.
Live event industry a big player in the Canadian economy
According to Statistics Canada, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector lost 152,000 of 486,100 jobs between June 2019 and June 2020, and 86% of businesses experienced a high level of impact due to the decrease in demand or cancellation of services. Those that are still employed have seen a 45% reduction in hours worked. The corporate and business events sector directly employs an additional 229,000 Canadians according to a 2017 Oxford Economics study.
“I’m always impressed to see how quickly the event industry can respond,” says co-founder Rob Duncan, “but considering how quickly the work stopped, people are really looking to do something, however symbolic it may be.”
Lyngard says for his part, he’s feeling “determined” when it comes to the future of live events. “This is a talented and creative industry that is always rising to a challenge.”
Live event workers looking for resources can visit https://liveeventcommunity.org.