Organizers, support workers call on city to ease restrictions on live events

Local event venues have been empty for months as the pandemic put a stop to live shows.
Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 2:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Eggshell Lighting Company has been in the live entertainment business for more than four decades, providing lighting services for big-name artists like Tina Turner, Bruno Mars and Henry Kapono.

These days, though, the company is at a standstill.

“I’ve lost a lot of my employees, many of them went to unemployment,” said Bob Harmon, president of Eggshell Lighting. Harmon says his equipment has been in a warehouse for 14 months.

And he’s not alone.

The Small Business Administration recently launched a grant program specifically to help live event operators. The Shuttered Venues Operators Grant would supply up to $10 million for an eligible business.

But because Harmon is a support company and not a live venue operator, he can’t apply.

“So those people are left out in the cold, and, and they’re going to have to rely on the PPP loans, which are a fraction of what the SBA SVOG was,” said event promoter Rick Bartalini, of Rick Bartalini Presents.

Bartalini and Harmon are joining other live events organizers and support workers in calling for a change to Oahu’s tier system, which does not have rules for live indoor events.

Large event states like California and Texas recently lifted restrictions for things like concerts.

Bartalini said as more states reopen, it makes Hawaii look less and less appealing to musicians, comedians, and other performers.

“I understand why we have to allow tourists back, and I would feel more comfortable as would the other companies that support these shows would if there was a plan,” Bartalini said.

“If we had some sort of hope that the state and the city was working on it, but there’s been there’s been no sign of any kind of hope at all.”

Harmon, of Eggshell Lighting Company, is also the president of the Hawaii Events Coalition.

He says they’ve shown the city how events and concerts can be done safely with protocols in place including social distancing.

“And we have all these tourists, we may as well be bringing that income in,” Harmon said. “We need to feel an audience, we need to feel connected, we’ve been missing that for over a year and we all we all strive for that again.”

Hawaii News Now reached out to the city for comment but has yet to hear back.

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