The novel coronavirus pandemic has everyone rethinking how we live and work. Existing issues within the global economy — from limited paid sick leave for hourly workers to lax corporate governance — are now impossible to ignore. And the calls to come together amidst a staggering public health crisis have compelled even the most competitive of industries to embrace collaboration — among them the live entertainment sector, which recently formed a coronavirus task force in response to the pandemic.
In the face of what was, at the time, a veritable leadership vacuum in Washington, D.C., last week the top names in live entertainment and promotion formed a global task force to unify their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
CEOs and other executives from companies including AEG, Live Nation, Creative Arts Agency, United Talent Agency and Paradigm signed on to participate. And the coronavirus task force is already holding "conference calls several times per day," an unnamed source told Variety.
"Even given the competitive nature of who is on the call, the circumstances surrounding our business has allowed honesty and respect to take hold, and work to the common good of our industry," another unnamed source told Billboard.
The overall goal is to "be consistent in our message, to create protocols that will make best efforts to protect our artists, crews, associates and as importantly, the fans," said the source, who Billboard identified as a task force member.
AEG postponed its famed Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, originally scheduled for mid April, at the beginning of last week. Shortly after, both Los Angeles-based AEG and its top competitor, Live Nation, announced they would halt all events through at least the end of the month, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Closures are heartbreaking decisions for many, particularly those who spend all year preparing to make these events memorable for fans, but they're necessary to promote social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus.
"We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favorite artists and live entertainment soon,” the task force said in a joint statement.
Earlier this week, the "Big Three" U.S. automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) — followed the entertainment sector's lead, forming their own coronavirus task force with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Chaired by UAW President Rory Gamble and the three automakers' respective CEOs, the task force will focus on improving protections for workers and limiting the spread of the virus in manufacturing plants and other facilities, according to news reports.
“This is a fluid and unprecedented situation, and the task force will move quickly to build on the wide-ranging preventive measures we have put in place,” the CEOs of the three companies said in a joint statement, as quoted by Reuters.
Over the past two weeks, the UAW has put increasing pressure on automakers to close plants in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among manufacturing workers. “These companies will be put on notice that the UAW will use any and all measures to protect our brothers and sisters,” Gamble wrote in an email to the New York Times on Tuesday.
Some auto plants began to close their doors or implement partial shutdowns early this week. And on Wednesday, following a task force meeting, the Big Three announced they will close all U.S. factories until at least March 30 to contain the spread of the virus, CNBC reported.
It is not immediately clear from news reports or union statements whether employees will receive full pay while plants are shut down, but union workers typically continue to be paid during temporary plant closures due to part shortages or other factors.
For his part, Gamble considers the move a victory for union workers: “UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today’s announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The task force's job is far from over, as CEOs say they'll continue to work with the union on how to implement proper sanitation and social distancing within factories once production resumes. “Especially in these challenging times, we must continue working together and putting people first,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, said in a statement.
As the coronavirus crisis continues to disrupt lives around the world, the public's eyes are on the industries that do — and don't — come together to protect their employees and the public.
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