Arts and entertainment venues shining a red light on COVID-19 | Company

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The plight of the live-entertainment and event industry in Winston-Salem and throughout the country, including behind-the-scenes workers and technicians, has been largely overlooked, according to local industry representatives.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Special Events Services, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 635 will present a “Red Alert” event Tuesday from 9 p.m.-midnight throughout the city, lighting buildings in red to rally support for federal relief legislation for the live-entertainment and event industry.

“We are trying to help correct that (oversight) and get help for them during this horrific time,” said Randy Eaddy, president and chief executive of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. 

John Horsman, theater manager for the arts council, is also a member of the stage managers union. He said that he felt fortunate to have a full-time job, but others haven’t been so lucky.

“I was talking with drummer in a band and a stage hand who has not had any work since March,”  Horsman said. “Others were OK with unemployment until it ran out, and the state has not been as generous as the feds have.

“One of our (union) brothers who was out on the road with shows had to give up his New York apartment and move into his parents’ basement.”

Jeff Cranfill, vice president of Special Events Services, normally has tours all over the country, Horsman said. Among other things, Crafill’s company does the technical work for rock shows: light, sound and recording.

“Now he has 93 tractor-trailers sitting quiet,” Horsman said. “He did a drive-in concert with the Avett Brothers in Charlotte last weekend, but, otherwise, nothing has been happening.”

The buildings that will be lit up include: the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, 251 N. Spruce St.; Special Events Services, 3135 Indiana Ave.; the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem and North Carolina Black Repertory Company, both at 419 N. Spruce St.; Southeastern Center for the Arts, 750 Marguerite Drive; Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, 421 N. 27th St.; The Ramkat, 170 W. Ninth St.; Bookmarks, 634 W. Fourth St., No. 110; the Millennium Center, 101 W. Fifth St.; Monstercade, 204 W. Acadia Ave.; the Winston-Salem Symphony, 201 N. Broad St., No. 200; The Kimpton Cardinal (historic RJR Building), 401 N. Main St.; Aperture Cinema, 311 W. Fourth St.; and the Delta Arts Center, 2611 New Walkertown Road.

People who want to show support can display red lights in solidarity — as simple as a single red porch light. 

“’Red Alert’ aims to focus attention on the legion of indispensable industry professionals who work behind the scenes for the productions we see and enjoy on the stage, on the screen, and in a wide range of public and private entertainment venues,” Eaddy said. “They are the light and sound technicians, the stagehands, set and costume designers, and myriad others who are members of our community and have seen their livelihoods disappear with the onset of COVID-19.” 

Members of IATSE Local 635 and Special Events Services are volunteering services and equipment to help organizations with “Red Alert” lighting.

The local “Red Alert” is part of a national event that will include lighting as many buildings in red as possible and posting pictures and videos to social media and news outlets.

#WeMakeEvents has partnered with ExtendPUA.org in requesting a continuation and expansion of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, both of which are supported by Arts North Carolina.

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