Categories
Opinion

Numbers, numbers…

Andy Stinton

Owner, Event Studio
Co-founder, Live Event Community

Everyone keeps talking about what number of people attending an event is safe. This seems to be based on capacities for event facilities, set by governing bodies. As a producer of a range of live events, the roadblocks to live events are much more complicated than these numbers suggest.

I’m not going to win popularity here, but as a business owner, there are realities that I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. These realities affect anyone in our business, and we should be mindful of them.

In person corporate events are not going to happen for some time, due to liability and insurance issues;

In person corporate events are not going to happen for some time, due to liability and insurance issues; no corporation is going to expose themselves to lawsuits and liabilities. Actually, “Lawsuits and Liabilities” would be a great name for a law firm, but I digress.

Many industry sectors have a ban on non-essential travel: no people, no live event. Additionally, the incentive to save company money is immense. A domestic, Canadian corporate in-person convention can cost $2.5 million, including costs for travel, hotel, food, rental and production. This can be replaced with a webcast/ broadcast. Say you pull out all the stops with a high-end online broadcast of this event, it might cost $250,000. That is big savings to the company, and the webcast/broadcast can go global, potentially reaching a much larger audience. Very attractive to the company bean counter.

Since April, I have been approaching my clients with our broadcast platform, which is visually sexy. Time and again, I’ve been turned away by clients who use heavy production for their live meetings, “Thanks, Andy. It looks great, but we are happy with Zoom”. How does one fight a platform costing $25 a month?

Now it’s August, and I’m starting to see the tide turning quite dramatically towards virtual events. Clients from every sector admit that they thought this COVID “thing” would be over by September. Well, it’s not, and these clients still have to communicate with their target audience in a more non-Zoom like way. Companies are looking at long-term virtual strategies and investing on a long-term basis.

Many events are ticketed and targeted at the public and industry, like Collision and Boots and Haerts . It’s obvious that attendance is king, but today in Canada there’s hesitation to even go to restaurants or board a plane. Promoters will back away until ALL the number crunching makes sense. I often hear about hybrid events, with simultaneous in-person and online elements. Adding a virtual component to a live event increases the budget, in an era where lowering overheads is the objective.

I could go on about presenters and bands trying to jump on a plane and cross borders, let alone the two-week isolation at either end of the gig.

Many still think that live events will come back shortly, and that online and virtual are passing fads. Smaller industry companies like A/V supply, Staging, Decor, Meeting Planners, and other industry suppliers are scared – they do not have the money in the bank to survive in the long term. Many industry suppliers fancy themselves webcast experts … this will not end well for them. However, webcast/broadcast need studios, and our techs and our industry have the skills to adapt to this work. They will stumble back, maybe not in its former glory, but let’s try to remain confident for some short-term success.

So standby in 5, 4, 3, ?????

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Categories
Opinion

Back to work? Not soon.

Andy Stinton

Owner, Event Studio
Co-founder, Live Event Community

Well, here we are mid-June, the CERB payments have been continued (sadly skipping a 2 week period) which will affect many of us in the live event industry. I also hear people being disappointed in the government for their way of handing out the money. I have no understanding of why – it may be operational and the government may have to redo their systems. It could be bad governing however that’s the way it is. I avoid partisan arguments as I think the provincial and federal governments have done a good job under the circumstances.

I don’t see the live event industry coming back anytime soon

Andy Stinton, Event Studio

The bigger issue is that I don’t see the live event industry coming back anytime soon and when it does hobble back, it will be with reduced staffing needs. As a producer, I had to find alternative sources of income. I am now producing webcasts notice the word producing. Sadly my competition has expanded to just about everybody who has a laptop and some software. A lot of my competition comes from AV suppliers,

stand by for big pyro fx explosion

HANG ON THERE I DON’T RENT AV GEAR and am by the way a customer.

Unfortunately, this is the way not just now but in the future, our roles in the business are in jeopardy or don’t exist. It’s every person for themselves, the AV companies in their minds owe freelancers nothing. (notice the absence of them on Live Event Community) So if you are mad or worried about missing some payments from CERB, I would respectfully suggest that you worry about having a job and sadly start looking for other sources of income ’cause CERB is going to end and your rent will still be due.

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News

Fourth Open Letter

An open letter to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Hon. Minister of Finance Bill Morneau,

The CERB is a key support for most Canadian live event technicians, artists and arts workers to survive this pandemic. It is imperative that you extend payments for CERB to entertainment workers, many of whom submitted for CERB early, and will reach their 16-week limit on 5 July 2020. The live events industry will remain shut down for the foreseeable future and this decision is solely in the hands of local health authorities, and the government.

It is imperative that you extend payments for CERB to entertainment workers

Live Event workers are resourceful, but we are in a market where our specialized skills are of limited use in competing for the jobs that would be required to replace our income from lifetime careers and dedication to the arts. We need support to continue and to be able to return to our careers.

There are provisions in Bill C-17 that specifically penalize CERB applicants who break the rules. However, since CERB was first proposed in March, these rules have changed several times, and will again once more with the passing of C-17. The government encouraged Canadians in need to apply for CERB promptly, and many of our Live Event Community did, especially since our industry was so quick to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is understood that the government should investigate and recover money from improper use of the benefit but asks that CERB applicants who unintentionally violate a CERB condition be given an opportunity to correct without penalty.    

We have confidence that the proposed changes to CERB as described in Bill C-17 will not affect our communities ability to receive support and will allow us to return to work when it is safe to do so.

Categories
Newsletter

Newsletter – May 1 2020

International Workers’ Day

For over a century, the first day of May has been celebrated internationally as a day to commemorate the struggle of workers around the world.

This year, under the veil of COVID-19, it has become ever more clear how important is the safety, service and sacrifice of our society’s front line workers – they are paramount to keeping us moving forward.

We want to thank all workers for their contributions to our country.

read more about IWD from the Canadian Labour Congress or TIME Magazine


Student Support Announced

This week the federal government announced a series of financial support measures for post-secondary students. Details for how to access these programs will come later.

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) will provide $1250 a month from May to the end of August to post-secondary students who do not otherwise qualify for CERB or EI. This increases to $1750 for students with dependents or a disability. It will be administered by the CRA.

A series of changes to the Canada Student Loans Program for the 2020-2021 year. Max grants increased from $3,000 per year to $6,000 per year (they were due to increase to $4,200 anyway). Loan limits increased from $210 per week to $350/week. Personal and spousal contributions suspended (no apparent change to parental contributions).

Creation of a Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student’s post-secondary education costs in the fall. This program is supposed to “encourage youth to mobilize and take part in national service activities”. Details to come.

Support to grad students! $292 million to the granting councils in order to “extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows”.

Resources

Resource Highlight #1

Resource Highlight #2

Resource Highlight #3

The Workers Health and Safety Centre provides a variety of safety and workplace related courses. [more information]

View our searchable indexed resources on our website: https://liveeventcommunity.org/resources

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Categories
Newsletter

Newsletter – 17 April 2020

Subscribe to our weekly update!

Enhanced CERB Rules & More!

According to the Canadian government 7.9 million applications for CERB have been received, and 7.5 million have been processed, totalling $17.35B.

This is staggering.

We commend the government for recognizing, as we called for in our April 6 letter, that nobody should be refused CERB due to residual income, or a small payout.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that CERB is now available for people earning less than $1000 a month, and those who have documented future work cancelled due to COVID-19.


We hope that you are finding the help that you need, and encourage you to visit our resources page, where we have gathered over 240 listings covering financial, health and training support. It is fully searchable by province and provider.

Resource Highlight

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #1

Entertainment behemoth Live Nation has created the Crew Nation fund to help support live music crews who have been directly impacted as shows are put on pause due to COVID-19. [more information]

First round applications are open until Friday, May 1.

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #2

THE CBC CREATIVE RELIEF FUND supports innovative original projects with compelling perspectives and unique voices that also reflect contemporary Canada, and follow the recommended local and national COVID-19 safety guidelines. [more information]

Creators can apply until 11:59 pm ET on Friday, April 24.

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #3

AFCHelps is the lifeline for Canada’s entertainment industry.You are professionally eligible if you:  • Are working age and have earned the majority of your income from entertainment industry work in 2019 [more information]

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #4

CBC News has an interactive list of financial benefits with provincial breakdowns. Read more to ensure you are receiving all the support you are entitled to. 

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Categories
Newsletter

Newsletter – 9 April 2020

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It’s CERB Week – should we celebrate??

The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit is rolling out, and the initial results seem positive. Members on our Facebook page report getting deposits in the bank within 48 hours, and EI-eligible applications since mid-March have been migrated to the CERB as well. The application process for freelance self-employed is only a few questions long, and broken web services that have plagued the Service Canada EI system don’t seem to have affected Revenue Canada, who is managing CERB for non-EI claimants.

Your CERB questions, answered

Wait, CERB is taxable?

Just like employment insurance (EI), the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit. This means that at tax time it is listed as income.With EI, the tax is withheld (just like an employee’s paycheque), so you don’t need to worry about paying it later. In fact, you might even get a refund!

However, the CERB pays you the full taxable amount ($2000 per month), which means you will owe taxes (minimum rate 15%) on it in 2021.

Did I get paid twice by mistake?

You may have received two payments. The first is a retroactive payment from 15 March to 11 April, and the second is for the following month. This is not an overpayment but there will not be another deposit for four weeks.

“So from March 15 to April 11 is the first four week period, during which a $2,000 payment would have been made yesterday or perhaps today.”

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos

Can I earn any income while on CERB?

Currently, once you are earning no income for 14 days, you can apply for CERB, but “for subsequent periods, you must expect to have no employment or self-employment income.”*

The Prime Minister announced Monday that he was looking into opening up CERB to underemployed and gig workers (<10 hours a week, under $500 a month), but for now, DO NOT JEOPARDIZE YOUR CERB benefit.

src: https://www.canada.ca/

Can I collect a cheque for past invoices?

According to Service Canada regarding EI claims, “self-employment earnings from services performed … are allocated to the week or weeks when the services were performed”*

Our recommendation? Have time sheets, invoices and emails/texts ready to provide RevCan to show that any cheques you deposited after 15 March were for work completed prior to the CERB no-income period.

src: https://www.canada.ca/

I applied for EI and heard nothing back.

If you applied for EI after 15 March, your case should have automatically been moved to CERB, and been paid out this week. If not, please contact Service Canada:  https://sr-ds.powerappsportals.com/caseintakeen/

An SSO will get back to you within 48 hours.

Resources

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #1

The Ontario government provides funding that families can apply for if they have children who are not in school or child care because of coronavirus (COVID-19). [more information]

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT #2

Did you know that there are over 100 free training opportunities online on our website? Check out our searchable database, and increase your industry knowledge during this forced hiatus. [more information]

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Categories
News

Third Open Letter

An open letter to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Hon. Minister of Finance Bill Morneau,

On behalf of The Live Event Community we want to thank your government for the strides in protecting Live Event workers. “Gig” workers, freelance entertainment technicians and artists are often employed in periodic, sporadic and non-standard work, which leaves us vulnerable and not easily covered by a typical scenario. The CERB does not reach all, and even worse many of our artists, creators and technicians may inadvertently disqualify themselves for CERB. 

Many in our industry have found innovative ways to entertain and motivate Canadians to stay indoors, including online performances, educational opportunities and other novel experiences. These are often at reduced rates, or in some cases for cost only. The CERB requires that the applicant receive NO INCOME for 14 consecutive days in a 4-week period for which they apply for benefits, no income from:

Employment or self-employment; Employment Insurance; Any allowances/money/benefits in respect of pregnancy or parental leave, including adoption benefit of $2,000 paid every 4 weeks from March 15, 2020, until Oct 3, 2020.

We do not want to stop creating, producing, and building live event experiences, but require a system that will allow us to continue small projects, and that whatever income earned be deducted from the basic CERB amount. We are not asking for more than any other Canadian, but we need to guarantee that this basic amount, that you have deemed important for Canadians to survive during this crisis, will not be refused due to small residual income.

We await your response, and we need you to consider these important changes.
Thank you for your attention in these difficult times,

Sincerely,

the Live Events Community

Categories
Opinion

Ask for help, be upfront & move forward

Morgan Myler

VP, IATSE Local 58
Co-founder, Live Event Community

On January 25, 2020 the COVID-19 virus hit our shores and has changed the landscape for our industry drastically. This March many workers, professionals and artists, companies, festivals have seen an entire stoppage.

I have heard tell of some of you afraid to contact the various sources of relief offered by the government. Afraid of audits, tax issues and the like. These situations are tough and I understand that our industry has encouraged this underground economy and you can be assured that a recovery will involve our respective governments looking harder to recover the funds for this and all the essential services that require funding ongoing, as they are going to put stimulus packages on the table. This is a team effort and recovery will be all of our responsibility. There is no way the industry will continue the way it has for some of us.

apply for the help you need financially you need to survive this

Firstly apply for the help you need financially you need to survive this. Secondly get financial affairs in order as best you can and get up to date. File your taxes, be open and honest and get through it. Start talking about the way these “Sole proprietor” and or cash jobs are paying out, and get protected for the future. We are all going to need to do our part in moving forward and that will mean (don’t throw fruit at me) paying taxes, becoming proper employees or sorting your taxes and benefits out properly and not getting caught again like this and avoiding future issues when our country is looking to recover from this.

We will all have to do a part when work returns to make the industry stable again and you do not want to be left behind now or in recovery. First and foremost apply for help when the programs are rolled out and get the help you need now.

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