Live-music venues offer assistance in vaccination efforts


Vaccinations at Salisbury Cathedral
Staff give the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at the vaccination center set up inside Salisbury Cathedral on January 20, 2021 in Salisbury, England, an example of using a large venue for vaccine distribution. (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Several organizations representing live-event venues sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday offering assistance in vaccination efforts. "As you set about achieving the ambitious goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days," the letter reads, citing Biden's COVID-19 response plan, "we wish to offer the full support and resources of the live event industry. We share your vision of expedient, equitable, and widespread vaccine distribution. It is our duty, as businesses rooted in communities across the nation, to do our part to set America on a positive path during this time of crisis."

The 12 signees on the letter include the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), National Independent Talent Organization (NITO), AEG and Live Nation.

In the letter, the organizations assert their venues' many assets and capabilities, including locations in urban, suburban and rural centers; proximity to transit (for urban locations); vast, open indoor spaces with bright lights and, vitally, large refrigerators — formerly used for beer — that can be used for vaccine storage.

Empty interior at First Avenue
Venue facilities — like those at First Avenue, pictured — have space, lighting and refrigeration that could be redeployed for vaccination efforts. (Daniel Corrigan)

Importantly, the letter highlights venue staffs' people skills. "Live events is one of the best prepared, best equipped, most experienced industries in America to manage and control large crowds in a rapid, organized fashion," the letter reads. "Moving people in, out, and around a public gathering space swiftly and safely is the foundation of our industry."

Minneapolis venue First Avenue is a member of NIVA, one of the signing organizations on the letter. "Since the pandemic shuttered our industry almost a year ago, our buildings and our co-workers have been paused, unutilized, and struggling," First Avenue owner and CEO and Board President of NIVA, Dayna Frank, said in a statement. "These vaccines are our best chance at putting COVID-19 behind us, and our experiences organizing events and managing crowds now put us in the unique position of being the best prepared and most qualified industry to support the vaccination effort and get this country on the road to recovery."

The use of convening venues for vaccination distribution is not unprecedented. In Europe, large venues where people previously gathered pre-pandemic have already been put to use as vaccination centers. In England, for example, the 800-year-old Salisbury Cathedral has become a vaccination center, as has Italy's Castello di Rivoli Museum, a contemporary arts museum in Turin.

Medical staff working inside Salisbury Cathedral
Medical staff prepare for vaccinations inside England's Salisbury Cathedral, Jan. 20, 2021. (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Although American music venues were recently granted economic relief through the passage of the Save Our Stages Bill, vaccination efforts would allow venue workers to return to work sooner. "An estimated 95% of live events industry businesses and workers have lost nearly 100% of their revenue, and are ready and willing to get to work immediately," the letter to President Biden notes. "We have been closed for nearly one full year to protect public health. Please let us now go to work to protect public health."

External Links

National Independent Venue Association (NIVA)

Full letter from music venues to President Joe Biden

National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness - White House

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