Spokane venues glow red in nationwide fight for live entertainment industry

SPOKANE, Wash. — Buildings around downtown Spokane lit up red Tuesday night as part of a nationwide effort. 

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the live entertainment industry. Venues have been closed for months, and it’s still unclear when concerts and comedy shows can return. 

There is growing pressure for Congress to pass the Restart Act. It would extend the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans. That would take a lot of pressure off the live entertainment, which employees tens of thousands of workers in Spokane County. 

From the Spokane arena, to the Convention Center, red lights signaling a red alert for an industry that needs crowds to survive. 

The Spokane Comedy Club is just one venue crippled by coronavirus closures. Supervisor Sydney Capasso was laid off in March. She didn’t expect the intermission to last this long. 

“Originally we thought it was only going to be a two-week thing and then it turned into a month and a half and okay we’re going to open up in June,” said Capasso. 

The Spokane Comedy Club has transformed into the Spokane Shake Company for now, selling food and ice cream at a limited capacity. 

“The first weekend was very busy, very nice. We saw a lot of our regulars come in and some comics come in  just to support us, it was just nice seeing them again,” said Capasso. 

Other venues have not been able to adapt. Doors are locked at the Knitting Factory. 

The Spokane Public Facilities District says $6.7 million worth of revenue has been lost and more than 29,000 jobs have been affected. People can’t attend shows, which means they won’t be eating at restaurants or booking hotel rooms. 

That’s why venues across the country are coming together, asking Congress to pass the Restart Act, to avoid 2020 from being their final act.

READ: Spokane venues light up red as live events industry buckles under COVID-19 cancellations