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With Empty Gear, San Diego Events Workers March To Spotlight Industry’s Hardship

San Diego Events Coalition and industry workers march from Waterfront Park to...

Photo by Tania Thorne

Above: San Diego Events Coalition and industry workers march from Waterfront Park to the San Diego Convention Center with empty gear cases symbolizing the void of events this year due to COVID-19 bans on mass gatherings. September 7, 2020.

San Diego events workers took to the streets on Labor Day to bring awareness to the impact the pandemic has brought to the events industry.

The Case March, organized by the San Diego Event Coalition, invited industry workers to push empty gear cases from Waterfront Park to the San Diego Convention Center symbolizing the void of events this year.

Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

Bans on mass gatherings due to COVID-19 have left more than 12 million workers in the U.S. unemployed, 200,000 events workers locally in San Diego County.

According to McFarlane Promotions, more than 90% of events have been canceled for 2020, previously making up over $329 million to the local economy.

Reported by Tania Thorne , Video by Andi Dukleth

Frank Gangemi, owner of Pacific Creative Productions, said the bans due to COVID-19 have impacted events workers.

“People are losing their businesses," he said. "I have friends and colleagues of mine who have either closed down, lost their jobs and on top of that have lost their health care, in trouble with their bills, could be foreclosed on or kicked out of their apartments. It's a very scary time for people in our industry.”

With no foreseeable reopening date, the San Diego Events Coalition, along with industry professionals, are pushing for relief for the thousands of unemployed event workers in order to keep the industry alive.

They are requesting relief in the following key areas:

  • An updated and improved Paycheck Protection Program allowing for second round forgivable funding and designed with special consideration for the events industry and industry workers.
  • Ability for event businesses to reapply for additional Economic Injury Disaster Loans funding based on need.
  • Additional aid on the federal level targeted to support the events industry.
  • Extension of additional unemployment benefits.
  • 20% of San Diego County Grant funds set aside as aid for businesses and independent contractors within the event industry who have been most impacted.
  • Priority made to defining a road map to safely reopening events in collaboration with industry leaders.

Workers know that following the COVID-19 outbreak, the events industry will look different in the future with sanitation and safety being priorities.

“Obviously social distancing, wash stations where you can get hand sanitizer or cleaning,” Gangemi said

This story was produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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Photo of Tania Thorne

Tania Thorne
North County Reporter

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