Coronavirus & the Empty Calendar Episode 1: The Phantom Gigs

Today I was driving to Minnesota to see the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Minnesota Wild (I’m a Winnipeg Jets fan that has a friend who is a Knights fan). Half way to St. Paul, I get the call that the NHL has followed the NBA in Suspending all games until such a time that Coronavirus is dealt with. SO I turned around and went back to the shop. I get into the office and everyone is sitting around talking. Shows and clients have been cancelling and asking about the cancellation policy. The first domino on my calendar fell today causing me to lose a 2 day gig. my next month is going to start to fall apart.

Hopefully, I’ll be fine financially. Luckily I’m salary with my company, but I have many friends on tour and all over North America that have been told that their work is no longer needed and their income just got cut massively. Ultra, SXSW, Broadway shows, all cancelled. Most people I know that aren’t in the entertainment industry are upset that they won’t get to go or that the artists won’t be playing. This is much bigger than that. Let’s look at a Broadway show. In the average show you will have a Stage manager, a couple Assistant Stage Managers, Light board op and/or programmer, Front of house Audio, Monitor Audio, 4-8 spotlight operators, anywhere from 2-20+ deck stagehands (people who work with scenery, props, costumes, makeup, lights, audio, video). Not to mention Company management, Production management, Orchestra members, Box office, ushers, concessions, facilities/janitorial, security, valet parking attendants, Medical staff, venue management, and so many more. a single show can employ several hundred people daily.

Playbill.com currently has 59 different shows on their national tours. Some of these shows have multiple tours going on for the same show. so that number is a bit higher than that. They travel with less people that you would have on a night on Broadway, but they need more local help. Just to set up a bigger show, you might need 40-80 stagehands for a full day or 2. (A full day means 12-18 hours. not your typical 9-5) After the show is set up, they have a decent chunk of the locals stay on to help with costumes, props, scenery, rigging, lighting, video and audio. So these local hands are doing this all the time for a living.

Even a band that is touring could be upwards of 30 people who are working for them on the road, in the home offices, or driving trucks and busses every day. And just like the Broadway tours, they need the help of locals to get set up and run shows.

My friends that are stranded or out of work right now don’t do this as a hobby like some many people think we do. This is our livelihood. Yes it can be fun, but it is times like this that things get real and a whole industry can be squashed. Who knows, maybe this will be the perfect time to gain a new skill or find a good side hustle seeing that all my nights and weekends are very quickly becoming free. Literally while writing this I lost a 5 day gig, and 2- 2 day gigs. I currently have all weekends free besides the last Sunday in March and I’ll be working a regular 9-5 in the office/warehouse. Side Hustle here I come!

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