TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of people in the special event industry have been out of a job for months. A new initiative called “Empower Events Tampa Bay” is looking to give emergency grants to help those workers.
With events like weddings and concerts canceled since March, some employees have had no work and been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nicole Idziak with Bay Stage Live, a Tampa business specializing in live event production, says they had to furlough all of their employees.
“As a family, we are all a family, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do,” said Idziak.
Idziak explained people might not realize the scope of how the COVID-19 crisis has hit event industry workers.
“We’re talking about florists and musicians and caterers, and there’s just so many people in this industry that are struggling right now,” said Idziak. “It’s hard to think about every day when you think about people not having food on their table. It’s scary stuff.”
The initiative Empower Events Tampa Bay launched an emergency grant program specifically for freelancers, subcontractors, part-time and full-time employees in the special event industry who’ve been impacted during the pandemic. Those eligible workers can get a one-time $500 grant.
“They’re kind of what we consider our frontline workers,” said Anna Lucia Richardson, the initiative’s founder. “They’re the ones who are making everything happen.”
Special event business owners can apply for the grants and nominate up to 10 employees. Empower Events Tampa Bay has partnered with the Above and Beyond Foundation to manage, process, and track all donations and be sure grants stay local in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
“I don’t think they get the recognition sometimes that they deserve,” said Richardson. “I feel like this is a way that we can recognize them and tell them thank you, we appreciate you, and we are thinking of you, and we’re going to get through this together, and know that we’ll be back here and hopefully celebrating again.”
The Vinik Family Foundation gave a $100,000 donation to the initiative and $10,000 from Anna Lucia Events. The initiative is also accepting donations to help keep the grant program going. For more information or to apply, click here.