Stagehands, wardrobe managers, ushers and other live events workers rallied down Boston’s Tremont Street Friday afternoon, calling on Congress to step up and support the industry as it continues to flounder under coronavirus restrictions.
More than 100 furloughed and unemployed live events workers pushed equipment cases and wardrobe racks through the Theater District from the Citizens Bank Opera House to the Boch Wang Theater.“We were the first to cancel, and we feel like we’ll be the last ones back,” said Rob Carballo, a stagehand who typically spends his evenings setting up performance venues around Boston.
Carballo and his wife, Kira, welcomed a baby in March — intensifying the stress he feels being unemployed during the pandemic. He said Kira works for Whole Foods and has stepped away from her job out of fear of infecting her husband and child.
“We’re all suffering right now,” Carballo said.
Entertainment professionals said they’ve been out of work since March and are at a loss about what to do next. They said they’re not confident their industry will bounce back until after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
“I thought I was going to be back to work in July,” said theater electrician Amanda Holt. “That’s what I planned for. The unknowns are what’s really affecting us. I don’t know whether to start a new career. I’ve invested 15 years into this.”
Gov. Charlie Baker’s state reopening plan puts live events in stage 4 — the final category of business resumption. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases continue to climb back up across the commonwealth, surpassing 700 new cases on both Thursday and Friday.Members of the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition said it’s critical for Congress to extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for the nearly 12 million entertainment workers nationwide.
“The show must go on, and so must we,” said Jim Mootos, president of the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union.