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Coronavirus Cancellations Financially Devastating For SF Performers and Nightlife

Updated: Apr 20, 2020 11:45
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The COVID 19 outbreak has already led to a ban on public events at SF city-owned properties, the sudden cancellation of SXSW, and Coachella was just postponed this afternoon. But those big-money, corporate sponsored events can take the financial hit. For performers, event organizers, and nightlife venues in San Francisco, the abundance of caution is creating an abundance of lost income and financial despair. 

“Literally everyone I know is losing work right now due to large festivals being canceled across the board.,” says Scott Levkoff, co-founder of Playable Agency and Midwayville. (His Patreon is here!) “This comes after AB 5. It’s absolutely going to decimate and level the events community.”

“I haven’t had any work since the end of February,” says Rasa Vitalia, a popular dancer and performer (Her Patreon is here!) “The last month has been very nerve-racking, not knowing what’s going to happen, not just for my work, but for the world.”

Bawdy Storytelling creator and sexual folklorist Dixie De La Tour tells us, “I’m hurtin’ without any income this month.” (Her Patreon is here!) “There are two nights per month that I make money, one in the SanFrancisco show, and one in the Seattle show. I’m not doing either one of those shows this month.”

The cancellation of the Seattle show was particularly difficult, because the venue is one of the oldest queer bars in Seattle. Re-Bar, which is in danger of closing, could hold on longer with the money from the well-attended Seattle Bawdy Storytelling event.

“I feel like I’m putting the nail in the coffin by canceling the event. But it’s Seattle. Seattle is a tough place right now.” she tells us. “I seriously did not sleep at all the night I had to cancel it.”

Venues are suffering too, according to DNA Lounge owner Jamie Zawinski (Their Patreon is here!) “Normally in March we have a few huge parties associated with the Game Developers Conference. Then GDC canceled, so did those events. Those parties typically pay our entire rent for the month of March, so that really screwed us.

“Obviously we’re really worried about the potential repercussions of this outbreak, on many different levels.”

There could be some relief on the way, but for many it may be too little too late. We told you yesterday about the petition to stop Bay Area evictions during the outbreak, and 48 Hills reports the Sup. Dean Preston is introducing that as legislation at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting. But passing legislation takes months, and many performers and producers need to figure something else out in the meanwhile.

Many are getting more creative with their Patreon offerings, innovating online events with Zoom conferences, or trying other online ideas. ‘We’re working with Mozilla HUBS to help them build meaningful, delightful and aesthetically pleasing experiences for guests online,” Playable Agencys’ Levkoff tells us. “I’m also fast-tracking a tabletop storytelling game called Goldfire City. I’m hoping to get that out pretty quickly on my Patreon.”

These financial sacrifices are  painful, but event producers realize they could create a real health hazard for people who are immunocompromised, or the people who care for them. “We want to make sure we’re not exposing people who could die,” according to Bawdy’s De La Tour. “Even though it feels paranoid, we’ve got to do this.”

Performers, producers, and venues say there are still ways you can support them. “If you can buy tickets to events, even if they’re not happening, that’s huge,” Levkoff tells us. “If performers do have Patreons, I think it’s a good time to support them.”


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  1. Dave K
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Is there a reason why you chose Asian performers for the picture of this article?

  2. Cybele Baker
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    AB5 isn’t helping in California either both are going to decimate performer’s, vendors and venues ability to survive financially. ??????