Episode 10: Why The Live Events Industry Needs Advocacy feat. Nancy Shaffer & Dwayne Thomas

In this episode, Nancy Shaffer and Dwayne Thomas of the Live Events Coalition, a non-profit group that speaks out and advocates for the live events industry, are bringing attention to our industry's problems.

What we're talking about ðŸ’¬

  • How COVID exposed the need for live events advocacy.
  • What we can do to shine a light on our industry.
  • How getting involved can impact the whole ecosystem of live events.

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Read the Transcript 📚

Angela Alea: We're excited to welcome two guests to the show. The first is Nancy Shafer. Nancy is the president of the Live Events Coalition, which was started back in 2020 in response to the pandemic and the lack of understanding within our industry.

This is an all-volunteer organization, which I think is really important to note, but they're making great strives on behalf of our industry. Nancy also founded Bravo in 1997 and has been producing incredible live experiences for almost three decades. Her [00:01:00] superpower is understanding and bringing people together.

She was also recently named one of the top 100 smart women of 2022 by smart meetings magazine and is one of the 15 over 50 for 2022 presented by biz bash magazine. The fact that these are presented by her peers is really a true Testament to her commitment, to what she does. And our second guess joining us today is Dwayne Thomas, who is the owner of an event lighting production company called Green Light Creative in Portland, Oregon in 2020, as a result of the COVID pandemic.

He along with so many others decided that our industry advocacy was where his energy could best be spent. He also became a board member of the Live Events, Coalition, and began working with their government affairs team, which he now chairs. He also is one of the founders of his own state's Live Events Coalition Chapter, and is the president of that organization.

 So [00:02:00] welcome Nancy and Dwayne. First, thank you. Thank you for taking on this initiative and having the courage to start the live events coalition as our audience well knows out there. We so badly need this type of organization. Today we really wanna learn more about your mission and the initiatives and how can all of us get involved to help further along our industry.

So with that, I wanna dive in and start and get into some of these questions. So why don't we just start? We just would love to hear a little bit more about all the good work you're doing over at the Live Events Coalition. So tell us about that.

[00:02:38] Nancy Shaffer: So I'm going to most likely throw this over to Dwayne.

Full disclosure. Dwayne is my hero. He has taught himself how to be an advocate and in the DC terminology, a lobbyist and moved mountains that we were told would not be able to be moved. So, my job is to stand in front of people and to smile a lot and say nice things and push people to join us. But without Dwayne, we would not be where we are today.

And so I'm gonna let him give you an update on kind of what we have accomplished and what's currently going.

[00:03:22] Dwayne Thomas: Thanks Nancy, as always, you are too kind. Maybe that's your superpower too. Hey, win more, catch, more flies with, uh, and never mind. 😂You know, when we initially thought about it, we thought that there would be several fronts that L C would fight on.

And, uh, one of them was obviously safety and, and determining, well, what is safe about live events? Cause here we are all shut down and we're not actually sure if the science supported being completely shut down. Like we were, uh, I don't know that we do now E either, [00:04:00] but, uh, we spent a, a, a good deal of capital, just trying to figure out how we would communi.

Um, about how, how we could have safe events when events came back. Cause we figured that was gonna be a factor. So there was a whole component there, um, that didn't have a whole lot to do with advocacy per se. But we, we hopped on the phone with the CDC quite a bit and uh, Then you start to tie it together.

The advocacy thing, which was because one of the things we were asking the CDC to do is would you please at least mention our, our industry, you guys talk about everything you've got, uh, you've got rules around all kinds of things, but you just say gatherings and it doesn't tell people much about the industry.

And we feel like we'll have more teeth if. In your pars, you are saying live events or events or corporate events or conferences or, or weddings, whatever it is. You wanna say? Just name it. Yeah. And, and start to develop some standards around it. So at simultaneously [00:05:00] to that, and, and more in my wheelhouse was the advocacy piece.

We all woke, probably the same day, sometime in early March, as we watched our calendars empty out, uh, before anybody shut us down, we, our clients were doing it for us. Right. And I think we all pretty much had the same realization of at least those of us who got into this racket, uh, that. This was gonna be a tough haul that nobody knows we exist.

We're not a classic industry in the industry since we're actually a collection of many industries, we operate under 70, 80, 90 different NAS codes after all. And it, you have to look at it a little bit like building a house. You've got somebody who comes and excavates, you got the architect, you design thing in the first place.

You got somebody who. The concrete, somebody else comes and frames, somebody else does the finished work. Somebody else put the roof on somebody else loads in the appliances. Somebody else does the H V a C the electrical, all these different entities are doing that, but yet they, it is the construction industry.

Yep. So [00:06:00] we kind of tried to take a page out of that book, knowing that if we didn't start communicating about. As an industry, the people who deliver the porta potty, the luxury porta potties to remote sites and the event, security people, the people who do lighting and the people who plan and the people who design and build sets on and on and on the, the list is very long.

If we didn't start referring to that as one ecosystem, this was gonna be a tough go for somebody. And, and it would most likely be most of us. We also figure. You know, all the energy was gonna go around the restaurant world because they were famously, you know, all of a sudden doing curbside, we didn't have curbside.

There's no such thing in our world. Right. The closest thing we could come is that a handful of people got some virtual work doing virtual events that, that simply didn't bring it to everybody. Uh, it. I, I think the camera, people of the world were really happy that that was a reality. But apart from that, the rest of the industry kept suffering.

So we, we thought, you know, this is probably gonna be a two, [00:07:00] three month shutdown and the restaurants are gonna come back online and the whole world is gonna think everything's fine. And they won't know that we're not coming back for a damn site longer. It's gonna be a minute. Do we think it was gonna be almost two years?

No. Yeah. I, I think most people, I don't know about you guys, but I think most people thought, yeah, by the end of summer 2020, that this thing should be lit, right? Yeah. So we do get a lot of accolades and that's great, but that's not why we did it. I, I always say to people who are complimenting me, I say, you know, never underestimate somebody with their back to the wall.

This was always. It's it's all about getting out and fighting. And, and we knew if we didn't speak up, uh, that the programs were gonna fall well short of helping our industry's business owners and our workers enough. So, so

[00:07:51] Angela Alea: why, I mean, you, you just said so many things that, I mean, we could unpack just that for the rest of our time together.

But I've always thought it's crazy that our industry doesn't have its own NAICS code. I think LinkedIn's the only thing out there that allows you to search by event services and to your point, that means so many different things to so many different people, but yet we're a very mature industry.

Even though we don't get a lot of investment dollars and I'm meaning from the VCs and the private equity companies out there. There, there's not much in our industry. Right. There's not a lot of investment in there. And I think our industry is so misunderstood. And so I love that you said, Hey, just say the word events.

I, I need you to say that, right. Because it means something different to everybody else. And you're right. During the time it was all about the restaurants and hospitality. And yet we're, we're a consumer driven industry, right? We, we touch every single American because there's weddings, there's concerts, there's graduations, there's festivals, there's mud runs.

There's, there's so many things that fall under the word event. It doesn't have to be [00:09:00] a huge corporate conference. It doesn't have to be the Oscars, right. It can be so many different things and it touches every single human being on some level. And yet we're not on anyone's radar. We didn't get any dollars.

We were the first to shut down the last to come back and yet no one was talking about it. And if it wasn't for our industries, I think fighter mentality to your point, they're back against the wall. It just, it forced the resilience and the strengths to come out in our industry. And my hope is with what you guys are doing.

And I'm so thankful someone had the courage. To take the initiative to put us on the map. And it's hard because it, it is an uphill battle when you're trying to lobby and trying to educate people on a really misunderstood industry. Mm-hmm and so I think that's so fantastic, but why are we so misunderstood?

Why aren't we on the radar? Why is it taking this long? I mean, we're a mature industry yet. No one knows really what we do.

[00:10:00] Nancy Shaffer: It's a really good question. And it's an easy one to answer. Um, first of all, it. I love that you say that we had courage. I'm not sure if we had courage or we had insanity, but we had a need and we knew that it had to be done and there was no other option.

Um, so I don't think that we were courageous in it. We just knew something had to happen. And, and this very wise, amazing group of people decided that they would do that. The reason. Our industry is misunderstood or not understood. And one of the things that we did when we first started was we started a, an educational campaign.

Um, that basically was wish you were there or wish we were there, which was, you wanna go back to a concert, guess what? There's an entire industry that it takes to support that concert. We wanna go back to work. You wanna go to a wedding? Great. We want you to go to [00:11:00] that wedding and we want you to have a really good time, but it doesn't just happen.

Yeah. So our industry is an industry that has been created by people whose job it is. To stay behind the curtain. Yeah. So our job we did really, really, really well too well that there's not an understanding of what it takes. People understand what it takes to build a building. People actually understand what it takes to go to a restaurant and get a meal.

Yeah. It's very clear. It's very easy to understand it. Our elected officials have no idea what it takes to do. They do now. And they do now because of who we are and what we've done. But we spent the first year educating, not only the consumer and our clients, but our elected officials who won in particular [00:12:00] whose name I will not state, unless Wayne wants to.

Literally said to Dwayne. No, no, no. I took care of your industry. That was the shuttered venues grant. And we're like, well, we really appreciate that, but that was maybe 8% of the industry. Yeah. So there's no real understanding of what we do. And I think I alluded to this when you and I talk the first time, when you go to an event, I don't care what it is.

I don't care if it's a concert, a wedding, uh, bar mitzvah, a conference, a run, any of the. When you arrive, it's ready for you. It's done. It looks pretty. Your registration is there. Somebody's there to greet you with a cocktail. Your seat is where you want your seat to be. The stage is set. There's no understanding of what it took to get there.

Right? And when you leave, it's still exactly the way it was. If it's a sporting event or a concert, there's a [00:13:00] lot of traction on the. but other than that, it hasn't really changed. It's been exactly what it looks like somewhat when you arrived. So there's a magic that the event industry creates that we did so well, it put us in a position where people didn't understand what it took to produce.

[00:13:28] Angela Alea: Yes. Like they didn't have the appreciation for what it takes so much. Right. We're just the consumer. So how, how should, how should we be educating our friends, our family investors, our government, and our officials? Like, how did you all begin to educate them? Where, where did you start to do it?

[00:13:48] Nancy Shaffer: I think there are two sides to this. If we're talking about the non-elected official side, I think it's really important to have conversations where if you are in our industry, you [00:14:00] talk to people about what it takes. We have. We have statistics that we have that will show you how many people it takes to put on a gala, or at least what are the different jobs that you have within this industry?

those types of things so that people understand the complexity of what it is we do. I compare what we do to the world of construction. We are, the only industry cannot do our job by ourselves. Right. I can't produce an event by. You can't support companies by yourself. Mm-hmm, Dwayne can't support an event with lighting all by himself.

He can put the lights on, but all of those other components that are the subcontractors that build that building for lack of a better word is what we do. We build something it's just not a permanent something. Yeah. But we are the only other [00:15:00] industry that it requires us to. Create and work with teams.

And I think that that was part of what we needed to educate. It's part of what I do much like you families like, oh, you're a caterer. I'm like, no, I'm not a caterer. I hire caterers. So I think that, that the dialogue of talking to people. When they say, so what do you do? And you tell them, and they get a glossy look over their face.

You have the ability to say when you have an industry that has a workforce of 12 million people and generates $886 billion on an annual basis that nobody's ever heard of or understands, we have a marketing problem and we have a communications problem.

[00:15:52] Angela Alea: Hey, Nancy, I wanna pause there because I think that's a really important statistic that we all need to be talking about. We need to be touting it to everyone who will listen to us. So I just want to repeat that 12 million event professionals in us generate over 800 billion of revenue. That's pretty big!

That's incredible. And yet, no one's talking about us.

[00:16:19] Angela Alea: They don't understand what we do. And yet 12 million people touch events every year. So that's a really great statistic. Are there any other, um, shocking statistics that you don't think like when you were outlawing and advocating for our industry, what were some of the shocking statistics that people just didn't.

[00:16:38] Dwayne Thomas: Unfortunately, we had to say a lot of things that were pretty painful to hear, um, that they're, they're not, they weren't terribly complimentary, uh, in, in the way that you, that you'd wanna

[00:16:49] Angela Alea: Give us an example. What do you mean by that?

[00:16:52] Dwayne Thomas: Perfect example, is this the average small business owner in the event, spectrum loss between [00:17:00] 65 and a hundred percent of their revenue, right? I mean, there's a handful that did really well. They did some pivoting. Um, there's a handful of folks that did such that specialized in such small events that they were never really shut down. But for the most part, you're, you're, you're looking at 90% losing 65% or more. Okay. So that's the first thing that we, we hammered on a lot, not particularly complimentary, not particularly sunny, but in news, the next thing that we're, that we're realizing in our.

[00:17:27] That's how we say talking points, hate that term, but that's, it is what it is. Yeah. Um, is that, is that the average small business owner loss has taken on three to seven times the amount of debt that they had pre-pandemic in our, in our world. That's daunting. That's a balance sheet. That's not great.

There's a lot of people out there going, we took idle loans. That's 30 years. Some people may be able to work. How do we get out? It's huge. Very much. It's huge. You can't, you can't be. You can't be mobile. You can't act quickly to market pressures. [00:18:00] Uh, somebody like me, who's in the asset business needs to constantly have new equipment.

[00:18:04] Dwayne Thomas: Yeah. You can't just go get more money. You're already over, over saturated

[00:18:11] Angela Alea: with debt. Yeah. And the cost of borrowings just going up. So even access to affordable capital is.

[00:18:17] Dwayne Thomas: Not that's correct. And so it it's, it was a little, there, there were all, always those Golling moments in meetings with members of Congress where they kind of either looked at you or said something that, that, that made it apparent that they felt like saying, you know, you've just got your hand out.

[00:18:31] And, that is something we had to get really good at having a, a steel skin around and having an immediate response. Yeah. This is you, you can't shut down an industry and offer absolutely. No, no assistance. This wasn't our call. We did this for the good of America. We did this for the good of, of, of, of humankind and, and we, we did it without blinking and we did it with a lot of resilience, cuz look, it we're back.

[00:18:55] We polled and could thought we could [00:19:00] prove from people's comments and polls, that we were going to lose 30, 40, 50% of the small businesses in this sector. Right. Cause that's what people told us, you know what we didn't. How is that? What did we lose once they heard themselves say it out loud in a survey they turned around and fought, or they found another resource or they've sold another piece of, uh, equipment or whatever it was that kept the doors open the doors are still open the problems we face now aren't what we thought. 

[00:19:34] Angela Alea: we survived to face a new set of problems. 

[00:19:35] Dwayne Thomas: not enough people to work. You're too much work all at what it's. We could go on that. And the fact that I think most of us can confidently say. We thought we were reopening.

[00:19:46] Dwayne Thomas: So we went through a sales cycle and a, and a pre-production cycle, and then we'd shut down again and the cancellations would come back. So there wasn't just one and done with this problem. It happened two or three times.

[00:19:56] Angela Alea: Hey Dwayne, do you have any insight on the percentage [00:20:00] of event businesses that did shut down?

[00:20:03] Dwayne Thomas: We we don't. And, and the re reason for that is, is that we have stopped pulling that. Yeah. Um, it was okay. You, you use a bit of information like that to illustrate urgency. And, and that is why we went and got that bit of information the to 2020 in middle of 2021. Yeah. And, and by the way, the numbers very much matched up between the two.

[00:20:27] So we really, all the other data that we got was, is pretty Hardy to this day. That one piece, though, I have to say we, we were surprised that the last time we pulled, when we thought we were gonna be at somewhere north of 30%, we found that only really about five or 6% were reporting that they were shut down.

[00:20:45] There's something about polling that you have to know. Yeah, it is not predictable. Who's going to answer and who's not. So if you've already shut down, why are you taking this certain business? That's right. That's right. But it is possible that we just don't know them all, by the way. I'm [00:21:00] still seeing them shut down.

[00:21:01] People who just did, they didn't come back fast enough. Strong enough, soon enough. Um, I went to a, a liquidation sale at a, at a colleague here in Portland, Oregon, uh, that was selling off their, their scenic material. Gosh, it was April may. Yeah. They, couldn't go another day. They, that was it. They'd run out.

[00:21:20] So sad. We don't know because we haven't asked, but it's very hard to get that information to begin. Yeah.

[00:21:27] Angela Alea: Well, I also love what you said that I think it's so important. It's not, it's not lost on me, but you said, you know, we didn't do this for our industry. We did it for our country and we did it for humankind.

[00:21:42]  And I think that's so important that all good initiatives and things that we're passionate about. They're, they're bigger than ourselves. Right. And I, and I think you've started a movement that, um, is gonna serve our industry for a very long time to come. Even if you've [00:22:00] just done nothing more than educate people on what we sit in the middle of what we do day in and day out, what 12 million people do.

[00:22:09] Angela Alea: Every year. I, I just, I think it's so great. And so thank you both for that. Um, tell me about here's the other

[00:22:16] Nancy Shaffer: Angela, here's the other tidbit. It's a good one. Okay. It's a good sound bite. The live events industry is larger than the automobile industry. I tell people all the time, my job is in front of house.

[00:22:30] Nancy Shaffer: Whereas Dwayne's job is back of house. Yeah. I can still be standing on the floor of a large gala just to use that as an example, in a bright red gown. With a headset on and a walkie-talkie and a clipboard. And I am still invisible because that's my job. And the problem is, is that we did our job really well.

[00:22:52] Angela Alea: We've done a really good job of being invisible. So no one knows who we are or how great we are. Yeah. Well, we had to

[00:22:57] Nancy Shaffer: come out from behind the curtain and make sure that people knew [00:23:00] who we were and why we will go back behind the curtain because that is our job. We will never be invisible again.

[00:23:07] Angela Alea: Yeah. So who should be a member of the live events, coalition, tell our audience like how to get involved and, and what, what they, what does membership look like? And, and what does engagement with live events? Coalition look like for our audience?

[00:23:21] Nancy Shaffer: Um, one is yes. I believe that anybody who makes their living in the live events industry should become a member.

[00:23:28] You can become an individual member. You can become a small business member. Your company can become a larger member at a higher rate, which of course is better for us. Because as you mentioned, this is an all volunteer organization. Our revenue comes from our members and other opportunities that we're trying to develop now.

[00:23:48] So become a member. Um, advocacy is insurance. It means that when the next thing happens and for those of us who are of a certain age, We know [00:24:00] there will be something next. There was nine 11, there was 2008. There was 2009, and then there was a pandemic. So in my own lifetime, that's four mm-hmm of being in the industry.

[00:24:16] So believe that while it. May not be networking and it may not be the things that you're used to joining a industry type of organization. It is really important to be a part of it. Your voice needs to be heard. This is the only organization I'll say this again. This is the only organization that represents the entire industry.

[00:24:45] Dwayne Thomas: We don't care what vertical you're in. We don't care what your job is. We don't care what type of events you produce. It does not matter. You are under our umbrella and we are going to fight for you. And we're pretty [00:25:00] rabid about that.

We're pretty rabid about that point, Nancy. I mean we have seen ample evidence that if you shrink it down, let's take, for example, the folks who, who do live performance venues, they got.

Why because they struck it down and they only represented that tiny portion of the industry, which is something that we, we, we candidly said, we're not going that direction. And perhaps we would've been more successful for say, I don't know, pick it, uh, AV people mm-hmm we had just said we're the AV industry.

[00:25:30] Or if we had just said, we're just, we're the conference industry or the wedding industry, perhaps we would've been able to drill down faster. The thing is, is that this is a long haul. Yeah. And it doesn't take away. any of the definitional problems. Right. And it continues to give Congress a chance to pick winners and losers.

So that was what even. even if we lost, ultimately we were always saying, yeah, but we gotta have to stop this winners and losers thing so much so that our current fights are not [00:26:00] industry specific at all. We're looking at the level of loss now. Not which industry are you in. So that brings in other industries that are not us.

[00:26:08] That because that's so important, it's the only moral way to do this. Drilled down to certain industries helped and literally, you can have a guy across the street from another guy who had the same loss, but you were, you have the wrong names code, so you don't get anything. We, could not sleep at night if we continued to fight things like that way.

So I'm proud that we've been in the industry from the get-go. And Nancy's right. We're the only one that does everybody every time we encounter another, you know, pick the initials of, of an org. They're always, oh, well we specialize in X, Y, Z. We're like, great. We're your daddy, I guess...

[00:26:45] I don't know how else to put it, but it is a hard sale because again, I know this is becoming a broken record, but people just didn't understand what that meant because of so all the NAICS codes. How, how can that be one industry? Well, have a look.

[00:27:01] Angela Alea: Well, I think that simplifies it right for the audience. If you ever touch a live event, regardless of whether you're parking cars, checking bags, running camera. Uh, doing light it, what, what if you touch a live event, you need to belong to this organization, right? Because it, this organization is the only thing that's fighting this way for all of us. And we all have something to gain.

We all are invested in the success of our industry. And the reality is those of us that are still around we're around, cuz we're passionate about it. We're not going anywhere. Right. Good times and bad. 

[00:27:40] Dwayne Thomas: It was too hard to get to this point. The idea of letting it fall apart now is, is absolutely criminal.

[00:27:47] Yeah. It was exceptionally difficult to get a voice on Capitol hill. Yeah. Unbelievably hard. And it takes years to get things. The things done that you want to get. Listen, Congress is very good at fighting the last war. [00:28:00] And that's what we had to learn is that this wasn't gonna be overnight. We had people telling us and we're like, nah, you gotta help us.

Now. You have to help us now. And we pretty soon found. Uh, well, that's not exactly how it works. So the worst thing we can do now is let it all fall apart. It being a member of this is not difficult. You don't have to go to meetings if you don't want to. We, we, we have very few of them now. We're not gonna load down your inbox.

[00:28:24] We're doing, I believe a bimonthly newsletter. Um, we'll call upon you once in a while to take a survey, cuz we're trying to get out more accurate business information, more, more accurate data, right? Or we'll call on you to click through to a letter-writing campaign. Sometimes we make it a little harder.

We say, we're gonna ask you to pick up a phone in these states because these senators need to hear from their constituents. So if you live in these states, can you pick up the phone? Here's the script. Here's something like we make it easy for you, but it might take four or five minutes of.

[00:28:53] Angela Alea: But, well, we all have a vested interest in doing those things, right?

[00:28:56] Angela Alea: Or, or we should you're in this industry. We've gotta do our part. We can't just show [00:29:00] up. You can't just, and right. We, we gotta participate. We gotta lead. We gotta advocate. We have to educate every single person in our industry has got to do their part to your point, Nancy, there's gonna be something else that comes around for us.

And next time we're gonna be ready and we're gonna be well positioned. People are gonna know who we are. Yep. And we're gonna have that, that knowledge and that recognition. I love that

[00:29:24] Nancy Shaffer: in addition to being a member, which we need all of the members, I, you know, if there are 12 million people and let me put it to you this way, our individual membership in 2022 is $75.

[00:29:40] If I can get 1 million, I'll make it even easier. If I can get a hundred thousand people, 10,000 people to become members of this, then we have. An ability to really make a difference, but take all that aside. We need people who are [00:30:00] passionate people who will help us grow as an organization. Remember we built an association, which is basically what we built and we built an association on the backs of live event professionals.

None of. Have experience in this, whether it is building a membership-based organization, doing the advocacy and lobbying, filing the right forms, none of it. So this is not, well, I just don't have that kind of experience. I will take your raw talent. I want your, Hey

[00:30:33] Angela Alea: Nancy, I'm gonna go back and I'm not gonna let you off the hook on what you said earlier, what you just said.

[00:30:39] It absolutely takes courage. And so. You're saving our industry and you're investing time to your point. This is a volunteer thing, right? You guys are doing this while running your own businesses and doing your own things because Y you did have the courage to do it and, and the desire and the passion to do it.

So our entire industry thinks you and we should be participating and supporting. And so back to that, $75 monthly, or the membership for that, the $75 membership, where can people. To become a member.

[00:31:14] Nancy Shaffer: If you go to www.liveeventscoalition.org you will get to our website. Again, live events, coalition.org in the upper right-hand corner you will see a button that says join here. It's that simple.

[00:31:37] Angela Alea: So tell me about the advocacy component, and what does that look like? Exactly.

[00:31:43] Dwayne Thomas: It's, it's an interesting thing that, um, I don't think any of us really understood what it was. We, we were very, uh, fortunate and, and, and appreciate, I think even before I came into to the organization to have hired a, a, a hill advisor that.

[00:31:59] A step through the idea of advocacy and say, no, no, don't do it that way. That would help us, uh, become better writers because a big part of this is, is fitting it onto a page or less. Right. Um, and so we had guidance. We had teachers, if you will, mentors, uh, very, very expensive ones. This is the reason why we're still out there trying to fundraise is because having a firm like this is not, is not cheap, but it.

Aren't good at what we do. Um, advocacy looks like a whole lot of, um, losing you lose constant. And, and, and for folks who are used to being in an indu industry, where we make people happy, pretty much by definition with very few exceptions, um, the, you get your wins almost every day, don't you and at least 3, 4, 5 times a weekend.

[00:32:47] If you are a little small business company like mine, right? So. You have to doing the advocacy thing. The thing that I would say defines it more than anything is you need to be okay with losing [00:33:00] constantly. Cuz the winds are very few and far between and they take a long time to get, but we've had them.

We, we helped get the unemployment measures extended three times we helped get the second round of PPP out the door. What were we alone fighting for that? No heavens no, but, but our voice is certainly. Find the message and it, and, and we were part of what ha made that happen. I can tell you that the reason why caterers got anything at all from the restaurant revitalization fund is that we called my own representative in the, in the us house, in my district, who was the author of the R RF way back in the summer of 2020, we called and said, shouldn't caterers be included with this.

[00:33:39] So we figured, you know, getting a win for somebody was better than getting a win for nobody. Absolutely. And so it got. so a whole lot of caterers got a little bit of a bailout there. Um, so there have been wins. We have passed a bill for GRA for a grant program. Through the house of representatives. As of April, we got that done.

We wrote [00:34:00] it. We well helped write it. And, and we met with the, the authors of it. I don't, I don't know, 40 times. Um, we're on each other's Christmas list now. Uh, you, we, we got it done. It is stalled in the Senate and I don't think it's getting out of the Senate, um, that we could talk forever. That broken piece of our governance.

[00:34:23] Um, and we're currently looking at alternatives to it. We actually have an alternative that we're stepping for right now. We're actually looking for 10 G P senators to sign onto a bill that Mr. Card from, uh, from Maryland has written. That is about the hardest hit our marching orders now are help the people who are hit the hardest.

So you qualify by how much you lost as a percentage of your revenue. Mm-hmm premium post-pandemic, right? And it no longer matters what industry you're in. Like going back to what I talked about before, this was never going to be a thing where we could say, let's define our industry for you. So, you know, who gets [00:35:00] help.

[00:35:00] We had to let that go a long time ago, because it's nearly impossible to get your arms around. So the only way this was ever going to work is for it to be industry agnostic and go for the hardest hit first. That's the moral way to do this? Yes. There's going to be somebody who just missed the cutoff point in the loss.

Our hope is always that there's an understanding of that. And. You also buy lottery tickets. So let's all just call a spade, a spade, at least helps gets there. So we're working very hard to get this card and bill out some more sponsorships, some we're reaching across the aisle and make, get these guys to talk to each other.

It's a whole lot, hurry up and wait. Yeah, but then there's also, we've had 350 some, uh, congressional meetings over the last two-plus. After a while, you start to wonder, [00:36:00] I wonder how many this organization had to get their thing done. Are we doing it right? And everything we hear is look, the restaurant lobby is almost a hundred years old, actually it's over a hundred.

[00:36:11]  I believe it's a hundred, two years old now. And, and war two. So the fact that we gotta bill passed even, no, it's not gonna get out of the Senate. We gotta pass. It's a big deal. Yeah. And the worst thing, this is not a harm blowing exercise here. This is to illustrate how important it is. We keep this, this organization floating and going and ready for the next thing.

You may not hear from us commonly and regularly. That's not because we're not here and we're not working. This isn't a social thing. This is intended to be able to gear up and shoot missiles. The next time something goes wrong very quickly. The fact that they now know who we are, that they, that they call us by our first name.

[00:36:51] And they answer our emails. They say, Hey, I've forwarded to this. And so on and so forth. That's a way different than when we started. Absolutely. We have a lobby, we have a [00:37:00] voice. Finally, the worst thing we can do is pretend like, well, I'm not gonna join this thing, cuz nothing's really wrong right now. In fact, I'm really busy right now.

Why do I need an organization like this? If we had done this two years before COVID. Can you imagine how different things would be now? We wouldn't still be

[00:37:19] Angela Alea: fighting for someone one, I think both for fighting the good fight, shedding light on our industry, doing it all on a volunteer basis. And just really advocating for our entire industry, our entire livelihoods, our families.

[00:37:35] I mean, it touches so much more than the professionals. It touches their families too. And so I encourage all of you to listen, please, please, please go to liveeventscoalition.org, and click in the upper right corner. Join! It's $75 and there's so much good that can come from it. And thank you, Nancy. Thank you Dwayne for [00:38:00] participating today and helping shed the light on all the great things you're doing.

[00:38:03] Angela Alea: So Nancy, how can people reach out to you to learn more? So.

[00:38:08] Nancy Shaffer: Anybody can reach me at nshafer@liveeventscoalition.org And you can reach Dwayne at dthomas@live eventscoalition.org if you forget those names, Just send it to info@liveeventscoalition.org.

I look at those and I will make sure that you get to the right place, but we are here to answer questions. We are here to embrace people and the more people that want to become involved, the better off our industry is

[00:38:54] Angela Alea: going to be for those of you listening as always, we love to get your comments and feedback.

[00:38:58] Please feel free to reach out to podcast@lasso.io and make sure you go check out the Live Events Coalition. Thanks so much, everybody! 




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