Monday, March 4, 2024


Local Live Events Industry Builds “Empty Event” in Copley Square; A Reminder of What We Stand to Lose

The “Empty event” is part of a series of visibilities aimed to raise awareness about the ongoing havoc COVID-19 is reaping on the live events industry and industry workers


BOSTON — Monday, Copley Square resembled what, up until COVID-19 struck in March, people anticipated the popular entertainment destination would look like this summer. Staging, lights, and plenty of tables for dining and beverages were ready to create a memorable night on the town for locals and tourists alike. The only thing missing was the guests.

It was an eerie scene by design. Local stagehands, the IATSE Local 11 stagehands union, Corinthian Events and other industry players united as the Live Events Coalition to create the haunting display this morning. It was one of many “empty events” happening across the country and intended to remind people that just because live events are cancelled for the time being, the people behind the scenes of the industry are still here, and without work. 

“We need people to realize that events like concerts and festivals don’t just fall from the sky,” said Mandie Holt, production electrician. “While large gatherings are cancelled for the indefinite future, and you miss going to these events with your loved ones, that also means that millions of us workers who rely on those events to support ourselves are left scrambling. I know many people who have already had their cars repossessed, or who have lost their apartments.”

The Live Events Coalition is calling on Congress to urgently provide relief to entertainment workers, venues and businesses in order to help them stay afloat until work opportunities become available. Specifically, they want to:


Extend the CARES Act unemployment insurance provisions


(PUA and FPUC)


Pass the RESTART Act federal loans program


Have a seat on the State’s reopening committee. 

Copley Square’s empty event is the most recent installment in the coalition’s campaign for live events industry relief. The guest tables spelled out “one voice,” from an aerial perspective, referring to the unity of the Live Events Coalition fighting for a common cause: the livelihood of unemployed industry workers and the longevity of the industry. An LED ribbon light also read, “12 million strong,” in honor of the 12 million live events workers who remain unemployed in light of COVID-19 event cancellations.


Last week, the Live Events Coalition put Massachusetts on “red alert,” lighting up more than 80 prominent entertainment venues and landmarks across the state with red lights as part of a national day of action.


Due to social distancing measures and bans on large public gatherings that rippled throughout the globe, the live events industry was the first to be shut down because of COVID. Now, it will be the last to return to work, and some organizers fear that without further relief from the government, the industry might never fully recover. 


“When we come out on the other side of COVID-19, people are going to be craving the cultural and community aspect of live events more than ever” said Colleen Glynn, IATSE Local 11 business manager. “Yet several local venues have already been forced to close due to the economic stress of the pandemic, and the professionals who have built their careers in this industry are being told that they’re nonessential. We’re all left to wonder how much will be lost before we can get back to work.”


“We’re used to being around each other in hard times, and this is very different because in this hard time, we can’t be around each other, we can’t be around anybody,” said Shanna Banana, IATSE Local 11 stagehand. “That’s been devastating financially, physically and emotionally to a lot of my coworkers and peers. If legislators don’t take action and provide relief to our industry, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what any of us are going to do.”


According to organizers, 77 percent of people in the live events industry have lost 100 percent of their income since March 2020.


About the Mass Live Events Coalition and the National Live Events Coalition:

Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the live events industry, the Live Events Coalition exists to provide advocacy, resources and a network that connects and supports all of the businesses, contractors and workforce that make up the events industry. In addition to offering support, the coalition calls attention to the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on the business of live events and fights for inclusion in ongoing National conversations and supplemental Federal relief aid packages.


For more information, please visit 



About IATSE Local 11: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 11 has been raising the standards of the Live Events & Entertainment production industry since 1893. We represent the skilled men and women who work behind the scenes in the live events entertainment industry every day, specializing in stage rigging, theatrical set construction, and the installation and operation of video, lighting, and sound systems in virtually any type of venue. We prioritize industry-leading training for each member and fight for fair working conditions, pay and benefits for all live event industry workers.