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First to close, last to open: C.O.’s live events industry pleads for recovery assist

Without more assistance, 'it could get ugly'

(Update: Adding video, comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon members of the Live Events Industry of Oregon, a state chapter of the National Live Events Coalition, have signed a petition asking Gov. Kate Brown and other state representatives to step up their recovery efforts.

LEIO is made up of behind-the-scenes service providers that include special event venues, planners, designers, caterers, Lighting, DJs, rentals, among many others.

The petition asks that some of those money from Congress’s
American Rescue Plan relief bill be allocated in the form of grants to small businesses in Oregon.

Over a dozen business owners from Central Oregon signed the petition, in hopes of starting a conversation with state and county governments in order to recover from the fallout of the pandemic.

Courtney Lathum, the Owner of Flip Flop Sounds in Bend, is one of them.

"If things don't shift or relief doesn't come, it could get ugly," Lathum said Thursday.

He says those in the industry are asking for financial help, as the future of live events remains unknown, due to the pandemic.

"We really would love to see some sort of grant program, to help us limp through the next three to five months," Lathum said.

According to the Live Events Industry of Oregon, more than 78 percent of workers have been furlough, and 80 percent of businesses lost 60 percent or more of their revenues in 2020.

But Lathum says his business, which provides sound, lighting, video and staging for events across Central Oregon, has been hit even harder.

"After losing 90-plus percent of our business last year, anything is great this go around," Lathum said.

And although last December's COVID relief legislation served as temporary aid, he says they've had to wait in the dark.

"There has been zero clear guidance from the governor's office, as it pertains to live events," Lathum said.

Others in Bend, like Britt Gamble, the owner of Illuminate Your Night, says she's in a similar boat.

"We're down about 80 percent," Gamble said. "I know others are down 90 percent -- and some are closer to 100 percent."

Gamble says she's hoping to bring more awareness to those behind the scenes, as much of their workforce has been left out of recent recovery efforts, like the shuttered venue operators grant.

"The planners, the DJs, lighting technicians, and the rental companies are all left out of the Shuttered Venue Grant Program," she said.

Lathum added that despite numerous meetings with the governor's staff to devise a plan of action, a specific relief effort for the industry as a whole does not seem likely.

"At this point, I'm going to assume that unless there's a miracle, her and her staff are not going to want to help the event industry," he said.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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