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March 2021 marks the one-year mark when the pandemic completely shut down the convention and trade show industry, an industry that represents millions of workers. Convention centers that have remained closed across the country are surrounded by hotels and businesses that have suffered the same fate.

The unemployed represent union workers from many unions: trade show both design companies. Teamsters, trade show electricians and plumbers, stagehands, riggers, and audiovisual technicians. All live event workers! Plus, there are industries that depend on conventions and trade shows, such as hotels, restaurants, theme parks, stadiums, and airlines. Conventions are one of the largest contributors to these businesses, bringing billions of dollars to cities, states, and the federal government through a multitude of taxes and fees.  Most of the bailouts have covered the businesses promoted by conventions and trade shows, yet convention and trade show workers are not included.

Covid is serious, but so are the challenges to feeding workers’ families, losing medical insurance, pension threats, and the real possibility of homelessness. These are the issues facing the live event industry, and it’s getting worse. The live event industry needs help and support. The workers in this industry are not minimum wage workers. They are trained skilled labor.

While restaurants and the airlines are given attention to their plight, NO ONE has been hurt worse by the pandemic than the convention and live events industries! Companies in our industry, those engaged in custom exhibit design, including our own, have endured reduced revenues of 91% since March of last year

Once the go-ahead signal is given to convention centers to reopen, the industry will enforce and adhere to safety protocols. There are programs in place to allow for the safe reopening of convention centers and other venues and to bring life back into our economies. But until then, the industry needs proper legislation that considers this unique situation and keeps millions of Americans from facing poverty, homelessness, or worse.

EDPA is working to raise awareness of this devastating issue. Please add your voice to these efforts.