Live entertainment industry in Illinois hopes for post-pandemic boom

(The Center Square) – The stay-at-home order enacted and extended by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other governors across the country in an effort to stave off COVID-19 along with concerns over the new coronavirus means no concerts as the outdoor concert season should be getting underway.

Pritzker’s order issued March 21 prohibits “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit … any gathering of more than ten people,” and that includes “concert and music halls,” whether indoors or outdoors.

Bill Schnake, CEO of Schnake Sound & Light, does production setups for large concerts and festivals from New Jersey to Florida and Illinois to Nevada, ranging from as small as 500 to as large as 10,000. And while the first quarter of the year he said is typically slow for such work, because of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings over 10 people the coming quarter is going to hurt.

“We have already lost over $90,000 for the second quarter, which means paying people who work for me and having money for us to live on is going to be a tight situation,” Schnake said.

He hasn’t laid off his staff, though.

“The guys are getting paid 30 percent for not doing anything which is the best that I can do to help them out and to keep them going,” Schnake said.

He could have a good third quarter, but there are several factors from such events taking months to plan to the uncertainty of when the government will lift restrictions on crowd sizes.

“Maybe we might have a good third quarter if we’re lucky and a normal, or close to normal, fourth quarter which means we’ve lost nearly 60 percent of our income for the year,” he said.

Schnake also worries about the nonprofits that throw benefit festivals to raise money.

“We have several other charities that they just can’t afford doing anything now and the fact that people can’t gather they won’t make any money so please support the charities if you can,” he said.

Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order through April 30.

Submit a Comment