STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Live Events Coalition of New York & New Jersey has joined more than 225 organizations to form the COVID RELIEF NOW Coalition, which is asking for federal aid for DJs, wedding planners, caterers and others in the live entertainment industry, who can’t make ends meet during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Anthony Gerardi, a Richmond Valley resident who is president and founder of the Live Events Coalition of New York & New Jersey, and part-owner of the Rossville-based Partners in Sound Productions, said the industry is in dire need of federal aid.
This is especially needed since both New York and New Jersey have “no dancing” rules, and bans on large gatherings are in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said. In New York, you can’t have more than 50 people gathered for an affair in or outdoors, according to state mandates.
“We are dealing with an industry that has been completely decimated and wiped-out,” said Gerardi. “When you look at all the other industries, most are back to some sort of business, even if it’s at a lesser capacity — except for us, the live entertainment industry.”
Gerardi said his company — one of Staten Island’s largest entertainment companies that provides DJs and live entertainment around the Tristate area — has been left to provide “background music” for small sit-down dinners of under 50 people. And those parties are very few in number.
“What we are hearing is that these large parties won’t be allowed until there is a vaccine. We are estimating that we won’t be back until at least April,” he said. “We are a hospitality industry. We want people to be safe and enjoy themselves. But if science says we safety cannot do what we do and produce events, then we need money to stay closed for the next six to 10 months until we can safety reopen and go back to work.”
“We need money to be able to keep our doors closed, but lights on,” added Gerardi.
LETTERS TO CONGRESS
The Live Events Coalition of New York & New Jersey and COVID RELIEF NOW is urging those in the industry to send letters to Congress urging for help to avoid businesses from shuttering.
“Live events was the first industry to shut down, and we will by far be the last to reopen. While we are grateful for the relief provided by the CARES Act, it has not been enough to keep businesses afloat — and those that were able to access relief in the spring are still in dire need of support,” said The Live Events Coalition of New York & New Jersey and COVID RELIEF NOW in a letter sent to Congress.
“Tens of thousands of businesses are in danger of closing their doors for good — our surveys have shown us that 20% will go under by the end of October 2020, and up to 70% by the end of January 2021 — and 12 million jobs are now in jeopardy as a result,” the letter added.
Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said he has been fighting for economic relief for businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
“Failing to provide critical economic relief to those struggling will have devastating and long-lasting impacts. Walking away and giving up is frankly unacceptable,” said Rose. “That’s why I’ve continued to press leaders in both parties to stop the partisan games and strike a deal that will help our struggling businesses and restaurants, workers and families, and ensure our state and city don’t go bankrupt — which would cost first responders and public servants their livelihoods.”
SAFTEY DOCUMENT PRESENTED TO NYS
In addition to asking for federal aid, the coalition came up with a comprehensive document about how large parties with dancing can continue amid the pandemic with a host of safety regulations in place. The document outlines an array of safety procedures — from all guests wearing masks to preprogramed elevators to limited touch points.
“We sent this to the state months ago, and we have gotten no response whatsoever,” said Gerardi.
The state didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether the document was reviewed by officials. However, Jack Sterne, Cuomo administration spokesperson explained why large parties with dancing are still prohibited in New York.
“With spikes in other states, clusters in New York, and the risk of a second wave on the horizon, we must continue to be vigilant. As we have seen in weddings across the country, including in New York, large events dramatically increase the risk of COVID and can easily become superspreader events. We understand some folks may be unhappy with these rules — but better unhappy than sick, or worse,” he said.
Read More: As ban on dancing continues, party industry seeks federal aid