Eventbrite hosted the RECONVENE summit in May 2021, bringing together thousands of event producers. We’re sharing key takeaways from popular sessions — on topics like safely returning to in-person events, the future of virtual, and best practices for growing your audience — on our blog and our RECONVENE Recaps hub.
To Dayna Frank, the coronavirus pandemic was a “cataclysmic crisis” — an abrupt halt to what she considers her life’s work. Frank is the CEO of Minneapolis’ First Avenue Productions, which in normal times has around 500 employees and puts on more than 1,200 events a year.
The sudden and complete inability to generate any revenue made Frank realize that “the only way the industry as a whole was going to get through this was government aid.” So she spearheaded the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which became the main lobbying arm for the independent live entertainment industry in the US. She’s now the organization’s president.
During Eventbrite’s RECONVENE summit, Frank described how NIVA successfully fought for federal aid, and how the organization will serve venues going forward. Here are three takeaways for creators.
Watch Dayna Frank’s full talk below:
Lean on your community of creators
Frank spent eight months during the pandemic working around the clock to fight for federal aid, and to establish NIVA as the leading voice for independent venues and promoters. NIVA now consists of more than 3,000 venues, promoters, and festivals from every part of the US.
“For the first time, we had a need and desire to lean on each other,” Frank says, describing the collaboration as a “bright light” during the pandemic. “Unbelievable things” came from working with each other, she added: NIVA’s efforts led to the Save Our Stages Act, which has become the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant Program. It allocates $15 billion in federal emergency relief, dispensed by the Small Business Administration.
Use your email list to encourage vaccination
During the pandemic, First Avenue used its email list for community support — for example, pointing subscribers to organizations that were providing mutual aid. Now, the venue has started to use its newsletter to promote shows again. Another big goal: encouraging vaccination. “We are a post-vaccine industry,” Frank says. “We need full capacity, 100 percent of the time, so we’re trying to get people to get vaccinated.” Think about how you can use your email list to achieve your goals and promote a healthier community.
Utilize NIVA’s reopening checklist
Reopening is like going from 0 to 60 mph, with three hours’ notice, Frank says. NIVA worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compile a reopening checklist that provides advice and recommendations on how to host a safe event. “Because at the heart of all this is the public health crisis, and keeping people alive is the No. 1 commitment,” she says.
The checklist, called “Safe in Sound,” provides guidance on air circulation, face coverings, physical distancing, and more. One interesting tidbit: Around 40 percent of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic carriers, so temperature checks aren’t a guaranteed way to keep infected people out of the venue. However, they let your patrons know you take health and safety seriously — and they might deter people who don’t feel well from still coming to the event.