Local venues on “red alert” for survival


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) –The red hue cast on Ford Center and the Victory Theatre is raising awareness of the financial havoc the pandemic is wreaking on concerts and other entertainment.

“Its kind of a forgotten industry that has been shut down since March,” said Mark Rohrer, President of Sound & Light Inc.

Venues in Evansville have had to set their sites on 2021. Among this year’s entertainment cancellations and postponements: Reba, the WWE, and several other acts.

“The 99 event days which have rolled off the calendar, the 52 events, have impacted our business about 1.2 million dollars. It basically doubled the venue’s deficit,” said Ginger Haper, Old National Events Plaza’s Interim Director of Sales & Marketing. Venues aren’t the only ones taking a financial hit. “People don’t realize our partners in event services like audiovisual companies, decorators, florists, caterers, other planning organizations are struggling as well.”

Mark Rohrer knows this trend all too well. He is the president of a sound and lighting company in Evansville who started offering live streaming services to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“We’ve lost a lot of money on events. Normally about half, or a little bit more than half of or annual income is live events and I think we’ve only done two or three small things since March,” Rohrer explained.

Since live events came to a screeching halt, Rohrer said this pandemic will cost him nearly one million dollars. He says his company is fortunate compared to others in the industry. 96% of these companies have had to cut staff and wages.

“It’s really a drastic thing,” expressed Rohrer.

This is the heartache fueling We Make Event’s Red Alert Restart campaign. Thousands of venues across the nation are glowing red as the entertainment industry is on red alert for its survival.

“We are just hoping things can get back on track and get everything restarted,” said Rohrer.

Part of the campaign’s goal is for Congress to pass the Restart Act. It’s aimed at taking a financial burden off of those who have been laid off or furloughed.

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(This story was originally published on Sept. 1, 2020)

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