Update: Ilan appeared with Edmonton radio station 630 CHED’s J’lyn Nye on October 5th, 2020 where they discussed the severe challenges in the live event industry. You can read Ilan’s original story below.
Your Event Has Been Cancelled
By Ilan Cooley
The live event industry is in serious trouble. It was the first sector to go dark due to the pandemic, and it is expected to be the last to be allowed back to work.
The people behind the scenes of your favourite events are the mavericks and risk takers you likely don’t know about. They create the events that make you smile until your face hurts, cheer until you lose your voice, and dance until you can’t stand up. They make the magic that fills your social feeds, and the moments that live in your memories.
You may have gotten an email saying “your event has been cancelled” – they lost their livelihood.
“People don’t understand how bullseye targeted this virus was at our industry,” says Jon Beckett, owner of Production World. “It was a 100% bullseye. You couldn’t hit it more dead centre. It’s not like it hurt us – it took it away. People don’t understand that until you talk to them about your industry.”
Beckett’s company used to employ 50 people. Having lost more than 200 events so far, they have laid off 35 people. Their 25,000 square foot warehouse contains almost seven million dollars worth of staging, lighting and other production equipment.
“We have to house that inventory,” he says. “It is not like we can sell it.”
Similarly, Fort Saskatchewan based Superior Show Service has two separate warehouses full of rental items nobody currently needs, plus tax bills and insurance due. As a 35-year-old family-run event rental company, they cater to tradeshows and large events. Some of the 35 staff they laid off in March have been hired back after accessing relief programs, but with more than 80 events already cancelled, owner Chris Sisson worries about the future.
“It feels like the carpet kicked out from under you,” he says. “I’ve always been able to provide for a great number of families, not just my own, and today I have no idea how to provide for my own. I have been in this industry my entire life, and now I have no idea what to do. It is truly humbling and dumbfounding.”
Event promoter Mike Andersson prefers not to dwell on what has been lost, instead focusing on building something consumers will want to come back to when it is over. He knows how to manage complex logistics and bring large groups of people together. Even when faced with severe restrictions for events, his company, Trixstar, was busy creating pandemic proof event manifestos, and blue-sky concepts for safe gatherings.
“When everything came crashing down we were putting up material about what events look like after this, and showing some optimism,” he says. “It is important to get people together and to celebrate.” He admits there are good days and bad days. “It is a rollercoaster of emotions,” he says. “Obviously we feel terrible. It affects us, but it affects so many companies. From the security companies, to the ticketing companies, to the tent company, to the production company – all those people are affected.”
Event photographer Dale MacMillan also worries about the people behind the scenes. He has lost more than 100 days of shooting for professional sporting events, large music events, festivals and fairs, which makes up about 60% of his income, and he knows others are in the same situation.
“There’s a guy sitting out there with probably a quarter section of land and he’s probably got 5500 porta potties that are out at ten to 20 events throughout the month, and he is affected tremendously,” says MacMillan. “I see some of the guys that are usually in the business of trucking the machinery to set up the fairs and festivals that are delivering for Amazon now. I look at all of those people who work the booths to break plates. They are not working at all. How else is a guy who owns a plate breaking booth going to get any other business?”
Even artists like Clayton Bellamy are wondering how to pay their bills. As a successful singer/songwriter and member of Canada’s top country band, The Road Hammers, he wishes the gold records on his wall represented a decent living, but admits there is no money to be made without touring. With up to 90% of his income derived from live shows, and almost no revenue from music streaming, he says he will do whatever it takes to feed his family.
“Obviously I have kids and that comes first before anything,” he says. “The main thing to do is to find work.” He also knows lack of touring impacts others. “Our band employs a lot of people. It is not just me on the stage – it is the tour manager, and the person in the office answering the phones at the management company, and the manager. We help employ 50 people. If you think about the industry as a whole, there are a lot of people relying on that trickle-down.”
Beckett says the model for live events has changed forever.
“If we are going to collapse, then we are going to give it all we can. Right now, we are optimistic that we can somehow find ways to juggle.”
Production World is streaming virtual events to online audiences, and delivering reimagined AHS compliant live events with a mobile stage, video wall, and in-car audio for things like graduations, weddings, movies, drive in music events, and even funerals. They are retrofitting churches for virtual services, and recording content to deliver music and sermons to parishioners.
Sisson suggests his industry should collaborate with government and other industry professionals to develop a plan, like doing events by the hour to control occupancy counts, disinfecting surfaces, contact tracing and testing, and utilizing existing technologies like temperature checks and facial recognition.
“I will be ashamed of our industry if we cannot have something that is approved and a way to conduct ourselves by October,” he says. “At the end of the day there are a lot of livelihoods that need to get looked after.”
MacMillan says the advice his parents gave him to plan for a rainy day was valid. He will get creative with other revenue sources and try to take advantage of programs and subsidies.
“If it helps you along one more month, it is one more month that you can make it until things open up again.”
Bellamy tries to keep his mental health in check by maintaining a rigorous schedule of practicing, writing, and working on existing projects. He plans to finish a new record so he can hit the ground running when touring resumes.
“Right now, I have no income,” he says. “I don’t have a safety net. I don’t have a plan B.”
He says if people want to support their favourite artists they should buy music and merchandise directly, like and share posts and music on social media, and send a letter to the government to help change laws that impact fair pay for artists’ streaming rights.
A return to “normal” is a long way off, and no matter when life starts to feel unrestricted again the world will be altered, and things will be different. Behind the scenes, the event industry not just trying to reinvent itself, it is fighting for survival.
“People don’t think about the human side of it and all that goes into it and all the different companies that come together to produce an event,” says Anderson. “Nobody in the entertainment industry is making a dollar right now. Everyone has to figure out how to survive this, and survive it together. So, my optimism is, I think a lot of companies are going to survive this because they are working together. They are going to support each other once we come out the other side.”
On September 22nd Canadian event industry technicians, suppliers and venues from across the country will Light Up Live events in red to raise awareness for the live event industry – which is still dark.
This article was originally published on September 22, 2020.
Read more on Todayville.
Danielle Smith: Just ‘watch me’ protect Alberta from federal restrictions on oil, gas production
‘That is what the Sovereignty Act was about, sending the indication that we’re simply not going to comply with federal rules around this’
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith warned the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “watch me” over how she will shield her province from economic damage and high fuel prices after the feds announced a plan to cut oil and gas production by a third via an “emissions” reduction scheme by 2030.
“You’ll just have to watch me if you don’t believe me. That is what the Sovereignty Act was about, sending the indication that we’re simply not going to comply with federal rules around this,” Smith said while speaking to reporters at the United Nations’ COP28 climate confab on Thursday.
Smith warned that the Trudeau government is risking a full-blown “constitutional crisis” over what she said are “economic sanctions” on Alberta because of Trudeau’s oil and gas production cut.
On Thursday, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault unveiled a plan at COP28 to slash oil and gas emissions by 35% to 38% below 2019 levels. He claimed that Canada needs to reach “carbon neutrality in Canada by 2050.”
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson claimed that the federal government’s new rules are needed to keep the planet from “burning up.”
Smith agreed to attend COP28 to paint her province in a positive light and to promote its oil and gas industry in direct opposition to the Trudeau feds. She said Alberta and Canada are under attack by the Trudeau government and his “eco-extremist,” admitted socialist environment minister.
Smith issued a joint statement with Alberta Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Minister Rebecca Schulz on Thursday that said the Trudeau government’s new rules amount to a “de facto production cap on Alberta’s oil and gas sector” that is an “an intentional attack by the federal government on the economy of Alberta and the financial well-being of millions of Albertans and Canadians.”
“Alberta owns our resources and under the constitution we have the exclusive jurisdiction to develop and manage them,” Smith said.
“We have done so responsibly by setting a price on carbon as far back as 2007, developing a carbon offset and trading program (TIER), investing billions in commercial scale carbon capture, creating an innovation fund that has so far supported 260 emissions reducing projects with $2.6 billion in grants.”
My joint statement on the Federal government’s proposed emissions cap on Alberta’s oil and gas sector with Minister Environment and Protected Areas Minister Rebecca Schulz:
Today’s announced de facto production cap on Alberta’s oil and gas sector amounts to an intentional attack… pic.twitter.com/mNR69saHkP
— Danielle Smith (@ABDanielleSmith) December 7, 2023
Smith noted that Alberta has its own plan for “reaching carbon neutrality across our entire economy by 2050,” which may or may not come to fruition.
She then took a shot at Guilbeault, calling him an “eco-extremist” whose ideals are “threatening the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Albertans.”
“Ironically, they are also significantly undercutting global emissions reduction efforts by effectively de-incentivizing capital investment by the oil and gas sector in the emissions-reducing technologies and fuels the world needs Alberta to develop and share,” she said.
Earlier this week, Guilbeault announced at COP28 his first attack on the oil and gas sector via a methane emissions cap. Smith blasted his new rules as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”
The Trudeau government is trying to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, notably on electricity generation, as early as 2035. His government has also refused to extend a carbon tax exemption on heating fuels to all provinces, allowing only Atlantic provinces this benefit.
Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.
The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.
Last month, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province has no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach, by enacting its Sovereignty Act.” The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.
Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice.
Guilbeault’s extreme eco-activist past
Guilbeault is as extreme as they come for an environment minister and his background shows a history of breaking the law via activism. In 1997, he joined Greenpeace and served for a time as a director and then campaign manager of its Quebec chapter for about 10 years.
He was arrested many times for environmental protests, the most famous arrest coming after an incident in 2001 when he climbed Toronto’s CN Tower with British activist Chris Holden. The pair hung a banner saying “Canada and Bush — Climate Killers.”
His extreme ideals have continued in his role as environment minister. He threatened arrest and jail time for Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who said that on January 1 his province will no longer collect a federally imposed carbon tax on electric heat in addition to natural gas.
Smith has repeatedly defended Alberta from Trudeau’s climate regulations and asserted Alberta’s right to control its power grid, also promising the province will not be “transitioning away” from oil and natural gas. She has called on Trudeau to replace Guilbeault because he is too “extreme.”
Alberta does have support from the Supreme Court, however, which recently sided in favor of provincial autonomy when it comes to natural resources. The Supreme Court ruled that Trudeau’s law, C-69, dubbed the “no-more pipelines” bill, is “mostly unconstitutional.” This was a huge win for Alberta and Saskatchewan, who challenged the law in court. The decision returned authority over the pipelines to provincial governments, meaning oil and gas projects headed up by the provinces should be allowed to proceed without federal intrusion.
The Trudeau government, however, seems insistent on defying the recent rulings by pushing forward with its various regulations.
Canada’s food costs expected to increase by $700 per family in 2024: report
‘When Trudeau’s carbon tax makes it more expensive for farmers to grow food and truckers to deliver food, his carbon tax makes it more expensive for families to buy food’
A new report estimates that food costs for a family of four in Canada will increase by $700 in 2024 amid the ongoing carbon tax and rising inflation.
On November 27, researchers from Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of British Columbia published Canada’s Food Price Report 2024, which reveals that food prices will only rise in 2024.
“The current rate for food price increases is within the predicted range at 5.9% according to the latest available CPI data,” the report stated. The report further revealed that the increases are expected to be less than in 2023.
According to the research, the total grocery bill for a family of four in 2024 is projected to be $16,297.20, which is a $701.79 increase from last year.
Bakery, meat, and vegetables are expected to see a 5% to 7% increase, while dairy and fruit prices are projected to ride 1-3%. Restaurant and seafood costs are estimated to increase 3-5%.
The report further revealed that, “Canadians are spending less on food this year despite inflation,” instead choosing either to buy less food or to buy poorer quality of food.
“Food retail sales data indicates a decline from a monthly spend of $261.24 per capita in August 2022 to a monthly spend of $252.89 per capita in August 2023, indicating that Canadians are reducing their expenditures on groceries, either by reducing the quantity or quality of food they are buying or by substituting less expensive alternatives,” it continued.
In addition to food prices, the report found that “household expenses like rent and utilities are also increasing year over year.”
“A recent report by TransUnion found that the average Canadian has a credit card bill of $4,000 and a 4.2% increase in household debt compared to last year, all of which are possible contributors to reduced food expenditures for Canadians,” it continued.
Canadian Taxpayer Federation Director Franco Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews, “The carbon tax makes grocery prices more expensive.”
“When Trudeau’s carbon tax makes it more expensive for farmers to grow food and truckers to deliver food, his carbon tax makes it more expensive for families to buy food,” he explained.
“The carbon tax will cost Canadian farmers $1 billion by 2030,” Terrazzano added. “The government could make groceries more affordable for Canadians by scrapping the carbon tax.”
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre referenced the report, blaming the increased prices on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policies, saying, “EVERYTHING is more expensive after 8 years of Trudeau. He’s not worth the cost.”
EVERYTHING is more expensive after 8 years of Trudeau.
He's not worth the cost. pic.twitter.com/0tCwaRJHwC
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) December 7, 2023
The report should not come as a surprise to Canadians considering a September report by Statistics Canada revealing that food prices are rising faster than the headline inflation rate – the overall inflation rate in the country – as staple food items are increasing at a rate of 10 to 18 percent year-over-year.
Despite numerous reports indicating Canadians are experiencing financial hardship, the Trudeau government has largely ignored the pleas of those asking for help, while consistently denying their policies have any impact on inflation or the economy more broadly.
Trudeau has continued to refuse to extend the carbon tax exemption to all forms of home heating, instead only giving relief to Liberal voting provinces.
The carbon tax, framed as a way to reduce carbon emissions, has cost Canadians hundreds more annually despite rebates.
The increased costs are only expected to rise, as a recent report revealed that a carbon tax of more than $350 per tonne is needed to reach Trudeau’s net-zero goals by 2050.
Currently, Canadians living in provinces under the federal carbon pricing scheme pay $65 per tonne, but the Trudeau government has a goal of $170 per tonne by 2030.
The Trudeau government’s current environmental goals – which are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” – include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.
The reduction and eventual elimination of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.
However, some western provinces have declared they will not follow the regulations but instead focus on the wellbeing of Canadians.
Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have repeatedly promised to place the interests of their people above the Trudeau government’s “unconstitutional” demands, while consistently reminding the federal government that their infrastructures and economies depend upon oil, gas, and coal.
“We will never allow these regulations to be implemented here, full stop,” Alberta Premier Danielle Smith recently declared. “If they become the law of the land, they would crush Albertans’ finances, and they would also cause dramatic increases in electricity bills for families and businesses across Canada.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has likewise promised to fight back against Trudeau’s new regulations, saying recently that “Trudeau’s net-zero electricity regulations are unaffordable, unrealistic and unconstitutional.”
“They will drive electricity rates through the roof and leave Saskatchewan with an unreliable power supply. Our government will not let the federal government do that to the Saskatchewan people,” he charged.
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