LAS VEGAS – If you haven’t applied for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), do it now. Small business with under 500 people? Do it. Partner business that is just you and the other person? Do it. 1099/W2/Freelancer/gigger? Do it. And run, don’t walk. Before June 30th for sure. Know that if you qualify, you don’t have to accept it and certain liabilities may make not taking it a better option. But pursue it now.
What you need to know: The Small Business Administration has processed 4.5 million loans for a total of $530 billion out of $659 billion in the program. That means there is still $130 billion available right now. So many of the questions coming from the over 600 who were viewing the webinar live involved gig workers, but the answer is yes.
One of the most important webinars you should watch right now is NAMM’s COVID-19 Update, which you can see here. It took place on June 4th via zoom and was moderated by PLSN/FOH/SD publisher Terry Lowe. It featured our industry’s Michael Strickland (Bandit Lites) and Jim Digby (Event Safety Alliance). NAMM had several executives on the call, principally Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations and Managing Director. Also on the call was Chris Cushing, Managing Director, Federal and State Lobbying Team from the firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.
The Numbers & the PPP
Lowe started the call with the numbers from a PLSN/FOH survey which you can find here. The numbers are bleak. The survey was executed in April, and while a lot of these numbers are still holding steady, many likely have gotten worse:
- 76.26% reported they had lost 100% of their existing cash flow streams
- Only 3.08% of companies reported being able to keep all their employees on their payroll
- 47.6% reported they been able to keep none of their employees on their payroll
- More than three in four business owners — 76.94% —believe the Covid-19 pandemic is putting their company in jeopardy.
The numbers are bleaker for the gig/W2 workers:
- 43.2% of W2 employee respondents have reported losing their job.
- 42.16% have applied for unemployment benefits
- 49.48% believe they qualify for benefits under the CARES Act
- 42.96% feel they only have enough money to pay their rent/mortgage for the next 30 to 60 days
- 21.42% say they expect to be losing their health care in the foreseeable future
“These numbers are devastating – and there’s nothing we can do to make up for it,” Lowe said. “It’s not like we can do carry out.”
“PPP is constantly changing,” Cushing said. “Guidance on it comes out all the time – and it is confusing.” If you have a loan for less than $2 million, you’re going to be deemed complaint and they’ll be no audit down the road; all loans under $150,000 will be automatically be forgiven with no additional paperwork.
Again and again Cushing stressed the deadline is June 30 and it likely won’t be extended (as I type this the better-than-expected jobs report has come out making an extension or any addition PPPs unlikely). “Go to your bank and work with them and they will hold your hand,” he advised. Start with your bank but it doesn’t have to be that one. Lowe told his own story where his long-time bank wasn’t being helpful at all, so he went to a smaller independent bank and received his PPP quickly. Cushing confirmed that smaller banks can be more helpful and hold your hand better and you don’t need to be a current customer.
Cushing pointed out the “breaking news” and an extremely important development: The night before congress passed the PPP Flexibility Act, which makes PPP loans available through December 31, extends the period during which PPP loan amounts may be forgiven from eight weeks to 24 weeks, and extends the term to maturity for PPP loans to five years among other tweaks particularly helpful to our industry.
State of the Industry
Strickland has been active in lobbying his legislators in Tennessee where Bandit Lites is based. His message is we all need to email our legislators about the specific needs of our industry (an article about that with sample email is here). “Where we are right now is critical,” he said. “In three to four weeks when we’ll have no money … and we can’t open with 10, 25, 50 percent like restaurants or other businesses can. We need 10,000 people at once.” Getting our voices heard is key: “Politician’s job one is to get re-elected,” he said. And while they don’t read every email, the get reports from staff about subjects, often daily. If a staff member can tell the congress rep that they have received 550 requests for aid to the live entertainment industry, it will “gets their attention.”
Pivoting to current events, he observed that the mass protests all over the country in response to the murder of the George Floyd will have an unintended consequence: “At the end of June, one or two things will happen: We’ll have massive sickness and hospitals will be overcrowded, or we will get to that date and [the spread of the virus] will be palatable. No one knows what will occur.”
Digby discussed what “re-opening” will look like for us. The Event Safety Alliance already produced a Reopening Guide that speaks to many of the CDC guidelines. “But what it doesn’t address is that people still have to show up and feel safe, and the artist will want to feel safe and will want the audience to feel safe,” he said. He added that he didn’t want to be all “doom and gloom” but the reality is that the industry must do our very best to produce the most responsibly safe event as possible. “Anything less than that will send us all backwards.”
The June 4 webinar was recorded and can be seen at https://www.namm.org/online/2020/events/covid-19-update-live-event-professionals
For an at-a-glance look at the webinar’s slides, which includes details on the mid-April PLSN/FOH Covid-19 Entertainment Technology Economic Impact Survey, go to https://www.namm.org/sites/www.namm.org/files_public/resources/COVID-19_Update_FINAL.pdf
For more resources from NAMM including information on applying for PPP funding, go to www.namm.org/issues-and-advocacy/covid-19-updates-andresources-business
The original article can be found here: https://plsn.com/featured/featured-slider/namm-and-plsn-foh-host-covid-19-update-for-live-event-professionals/
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