A Sad “State of the Union” for the Entertainment Industry

A Sad “State of the Union” for the Entertainment Industry

Originally posted by the owner of R90 Lighting, Joe Cole, on the company’s official Facebook page.

As a sad “state of the union” for the entertainment industry, yesterday we tendered our first official resignation.

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye and wish luck to one of our account reps, Davis Alexander. He’s been looking at the current state of the industry and has decided to try out the construction industry for a bit. We have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll be back in the entertainment industry at some point but in the meantime it creates a window to the sad state of affairs here in the entertainment industry.

On the outside all of us companies are clinging on. We’re presenting our bright shiny faces, trying our best to sound chipper and smiling on your zoom meetings while you tell us about your exciting projects that are coming up in 2021. We have PPP loans, EIDL loans, some sales, some installations, even a small rental here and there. The company will survive, but Mr Alexanders resignation is a sign of the times. Our industry is in trouble. Very deep trouble.

There are countless darkened warehouses and venues across the country. The darkest side is not the real estate, the dormant gear, or the lack of entertainment. The darkness is the soul of the industry. It’s the people. This industry has always been about the people. Every time a live production of Peter Pan plays out the audience claps out loud to save Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell is usually played by a follow spot operator, so for me that part of the show has always been about the people behind the scenes. These days it sort of feels like every time a band plays a live stream from their storage closet with no production somewhere there’s a talented lighting tech who just drops….

I don’t think people outside of the industry quite understand what it’s like to suddenly have everyone you know be dependent on unemployment and the welfare of the state. We’ve talked to our peers in this and other markets, it’s the same everywhere. Anyone who tells you their business is fine is lying through their teeth. Even the states that are “opening” have the same issues. Our shops are shuttered. Our venues are closed. Our shows don’t exist. Some of us are very lucky but a lot of us are going to seek employment elsewhere. At this point we’re all pretty sure that the industry will return, but when it does we’re not sure how many people will still be a part of it.

Right now there’s not just follow spot operators, programmers, ME’s, lighting techs out of work. There’s sales managers, warehouse managers, shop leads, over hires and everyone else who checks gear in, out, peels tape off of your cable looms, finds broken and damaged gear, fixes that gear and gets it back out the door.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone in the industry who is normally unnoticed and underappreciated.

Thank you.

Davis, good luck in the construction industry. We’ll see you on the other side of the tunnel.

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