The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre took part in the Canada-wide Light Up Live event Tuesday, Sept. 22 to display that the venues have been in the dark since COVID-19 hit in March. (Camillia Courts photo)

Vernon centre lights up for visibility amid pandemic

Impact of COVID-19 on live event workers sparks Canadian movement

Thousands of entertainment venues across the country have remained closed or limited since March 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And with it, hundreds of thousands of live event workers have lost their livelihoods.

But for one hour, red lights put the spotlight on businesses from coast-to-coast to raise awareness for the industry that is still in the dark and is likely the last to recover amid the COVID-19 pandemic, due to physical distancing requirements and limitations on large gatherings.

The Live Event Community is the organization behind Tuesday’s (Sept. 22) display of solidarity and awareness.

One hour after sundown, hundreds of theatres, public venues and performing arts facilities, including the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (VDPAC), lit their exteriors and interiors in red to raise public and government awareness for the industry still in the dark.

The @vernonperformingarts centre is lit up in red tonight (Sept. 22) as part of #lightuplive – a countrywide movement…

Posted by Vernon Morning Star on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Throughout the evening, images and video were shared across social media using the hashtags #LightUpLive to boost visibility.

The VDPAC, Kelowna Community Theatre, Salmon Arm’s Bespoke Group and South Okanagan Events Centre joined the list of participating buildings (accessible at lightuplive.ca/map) that includes Canada’s prestigious performance venues, major arenas and iconic landmarks like the CN Tower, Calgary Tower, Niagara Falls, Rogers Arena, Roy Thompson Hall, the Grand Théâtre de Québec, Confederation Centre of the Arts, SaskTel Centre, Stratford Festival Theatre and the Royal Theatre in Victoria.

“This grassroots movement has seemed to catch fire,” Live Event Community co-founder and industry veteran Morgan Myler said.

“Our goal is to ensure the government acknowledges that our industry has been uniquely impacted by the effects of COVID-19, and that it will continue to offer financial support for live event workers and companies throughout the supply chain until large gatherings are once again deemed safe and the industry comes back to life.”

READ MORE: Fewer people but more visits added to Vernon Museum

At VDPAC, since March, the theatre was forced to re-schedule or postpone indefinitely 87 shows with no firm date in sight of re-opening for full public performances.

“We immediately signed-on to CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program) to retain 13 full-time staff since March 15. Our staff has worked hard to assure and assist artists, ticketholders, volunteers and tour promoters during this uncertain time” executive director Jim Harding said.

Harding said although VDPAC will return with small-scale OnStage Concerts for audiences of 50 and live-streaming performances are set to take stage virtually this fall, a full recovery is no where to be seen yet.

“We are akey part of the provincial and national network of venues that host touring professional artists so it is vital to participate in this initiative,” Harding said of Light Up Live. “And also to show a clear signal to all levels of government that the performing arts is not only a major contributor to the health and wellness of our communities, but also a significant economic contributor as well.”

“While other sectors may re-open and recover sooner, like the tourism industry,” Harding said. “The cultural industry will need continued financial assistance until it’s safe for the public to return in force — and they want to.”

VDPAC’s artistic director Erin Kennedy echoed the sentiments.

“Our industry is in a crisis. The arts are integral to a healthy community. We need continued financial support for live event workers until the industry is back to work,” Kennedy said.

With no current re-opening date, VDPAC’s Ticket Seller box office has been keeping patrons informed on re-booking’s through the Ticketseller.ca website.

READ MORE: Vernon talent airs for Top of the Country


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