Rawlinson lights up red to alert public of pandemic’s impact on entertainment sector

A red light shines on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre as part of a Light Up Live initiative to raise awareness for COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment and events industry. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

A Prince Albert venue lit the night red on Tuesday to raise awareness for an industry that COVID-19 has left in the dark.

The E.A. Rawlinson Centre was among about 30 venues in Saskatchewan that participated in the National Day of Visibility for the Entertainment and Events Industry.

The initiative isn’t confined to the province, though, with venues across Canada beaming red to remind communities of the industry’s importance.

Since the pandemic struck the province in March, live events workers, including artists and performers, have been largely left without jobs.

“We, too, need their performances and tours to survive,” said the E.A. Rawlinson Centre in a news release.

Production Manager Dannyll Challis said he’s “extremely grateful” — the venue had originally planned for some major renovations throughout July and August, so full-time staff were able to work on those projects while events were cancelled.

“I have a lot of friends, however, that have not worked in six months. I have a lot of friends who, because they are in the events/entertainment industry, they’re looking at another six to eight months before they think they’re going to have any work,” said Challis.

The “red alert” initiative is one way to show people how the pandemic has impacted the industry, and how its lingering effects could impact them too.

“The conversation from the public, they didn’t understand why until people started to explain ‘Well, you know all of that Netflix that you’ve been purging? All of those shows you’ve been binge watching?’ That’s the entertainment industry.”

The industry isn’t just made up of live venues like the Rawlinson, he said, but also film and television, for example.

(Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

Challis said the provincial government lacked recognition and planning for the reopening of the entertainment sector.

The industry was among the last to be given the go ahead under the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan. In the second part of phase four, out of the five-phase plan, live theatres were allowed to open on June 29.

Performing arts followed on July 6, casinos on July 9 and live performances in restaurants, licensed establishments and farmers markets on July 16.

The Rawlinson slowly started to ramp up activities starting with the modified Broadway North Youth Company summer intensive. Since then, it’s hosted a drive-in concert, and this week it will be hosting its first indoor show since the shutdown.

An Evening With Belle Plaine is set to take place on Friday evening. Some rows of seating have been blocked off to allow for physical distancing.

Challis said the red alert initiative is, in a way, a union of the entertainment industry across Canada. It’s a small sector, he said, because many artists and their teams travel around the country to different venues.

“Many stages, conference rooms, event centres and venues are still dark,” read the news release.

“We need continued support until everyone’s lights are back on for good.”

You can use #LightUpLive to show support for National Day of Visibility for the Entertainment and Events Industry.

According to a map on lightuplive.ca, 10 venues in Regina, 12 in Saskatoon, three in the Battlefords, two in Lloydminster and one in each of Yorkton, Carlyle and Swift Current took part.