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TIM BURKE: Cancellation of social events affecting state’s economy

I miss concerts. Actually, I miss a lot of the various types of social events that I used to attend pre-COVID.

Before the shutdown, concerts were a significant part of the entertainment available over the hump in Las Vegas.

In the age of digital streaming, downloads have replaced record albums and CD sales. That has changed the business model for musicians. They no longer get big contracts with the major label companies for their music and, instead, get smaller incremental amounts from the streaming services.

Digital file sharing and pirate streaming sites avoid paying musicians altogether by illegally making copyrighted content available. To make up for the lost revenue, bands and musicians have gone on tour in record numbers. During normal times (remember those good old days!), you could attend a concert by a major group almost weekly in Las Vegas.

The concert venues ranged from small coffee houses to major stadiums like T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium. Garth Brooks’ planned 2020 concert at Allegiant Stadium sold out at 65,000 tickets. That concert rescheduled for 2021.

The mass cancellations of concerts and other entertainment events extend beyond Las Vegas and have affected most of Nevada. The small community of Yerington canceled their annual “Night in the Country” summer concert event. The Reno/Tahoe area is usually bustling with major events during the summer months, but not this summer. Hot August Nights, the Reno Rodeo, the Reno Air Races, the Balloon Races, and the Nugget Rib Cook-off are just a few of the events that rescheduled for 2021.

Pahrump has not escaped the governor’s order that caps events of any type at 50 people.

The Baker to Vegas Run that annually passes through Pahrump canceled for this year. The inaugural Vino Jazz weekend and annual Pahrump Fall Festival rescheduled for 2021, just to name a few of the 2020 cancellations.

These events are an essential part of our rural area. They give us a chance to come together as a community, and they provide us entertainment in our area that lacks a diversity of things to do. The events are also crucial to our local charities. Most events have a charitable component tied to them that provides badly needed funds to our local organizations. Funds that aren’t going to be replaced by any type of government pandemic bailout. Less fundraising events translate to fewer services for those in our community that desperately need help.

Concerts and special events also provide jobs for seasonal or part-time workers. A major event like a Garth Brooks stadium concert employs thousands of workers. Workers that direct traffic, take tickets, work concessions, provide security, and clean up, just to name a few of the services they provide. Jobs that are often not covered by unemployment benefits or any sort of federal aid.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the career politicians in both parties go on summer break while businesses continue to go under, unemployment remains staggeringly high, and American families suffer. Is there not a more persuasive argument for term limits than the current lack of progress from these career politicians? They are more concerned about pushing their political agendas and keeping their power base than helping American businesses and families. They are entirely out of touch with their constituents. They need to go to Washington, serve a couple of terms, then return to the real world before their egos bloat, and they lose touch with reality.

Someday, we will return to attending concerts and special events. It may take a while before people feel safe again.

In almost a defiance of COVID-19 and the shutdown, the annual Sturgis Rally just completed in South Dakota, where attendance was estimated to be 300,000 or more. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, there will be in COVID-19 cases for the attendees. I often hear people say that this pandemic will forever change how we do things. Well, it is not the first pandemic in this country. Society as a whole recovered from the 1918 influenza quickly and normal life resumed.

When people feel safe, they will once again attend events. Most of us can’t wait!

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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