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NACE Chapter Appeals To Officials On Behalf Of Local Events Community

As several states gradually begin to open businesses and economies, there has been little to no timeline for when events and gatherings can start to take place. Chicago Chapter member Megan Estrada saw what was happening at the state and city levels, and rallied fellow chapter members to send Governor, J.B. Pritzker, a letter advocating on behalf of the state’s events industry. The letter took the critical step making it clear that the events industry wants to open only when it is safe, but that event businesses need more advance knowledge of reopening timelines than retail and restaurants.  The letter also highlighted work local event professionals are doing to develop guidelines and best practices for safe operation in the future, asking the Governor to give them a seat at the table to share their expertise.

On April 23, Governor Pritzker announced the shelter-in-place order would extend to May 30. Like many event professionals did, Megan recognized that this temporary ban on events would have a dramatic and lasting effect on the local event business.

“The event industry has a lot of small business owners and 1099 gig workers. The financial aid would be slow and difficult to reach them. We needed to find a way to reopen and safely.” Megan said. She then reached out to colleagues to assess how local event businesses can have a voice. “They suggested gathering event industry businesses and associations to send a letter to the Governor and Mayor. I reached out to NACE headquarters to request support in creating a task force for the events industry, in Illinois, with the Chicago chapter. We call this the NACE Covid-19 Response Committee. We gathered local support and, on May 7, issued a letter to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot about the need for the events industry to be considered and communicated with in reopening plans.” Megan added.

Megan partnered with Juan Teague, of Juan and Only Events, to create and deliver the message of local events community to government offices in Illinois. “We took our letters and message to government officials and were able to get significant interest from Mayor Lightfoot’s office, as well as the Illinois Restaurant Association.  We have gathered industry professionals within this task force and grouped them into subcommittees to create safety guidelines for events. We hope by presenting these guidelines, events will reopen safely across Illinois to allow the local industry to rebound. By being involved in setting safety guidelines and asking the industry to follow them, we can feel more comfortable asking for events to occur. We all want attendees to feel assured that events are safe to attend and vendors to feel safe working.” Meghan shared.

NACE chapters, local event communities, and professionals can petition their own local elected officials on guidance to reopen events and for their seat at the table locally. Megan feels strongly that if government officials allow events to occur too soon, without discussion and implementing safety guidelines, there is a significant risk that events could face a backlash of resurgence of COVID-19 cases. “We are encouraging every chapter of NACE to take these same efforts to reach local government officials. The key to the successful reopening of events is to slowly allow them to happen, with discourse and clear safety guidelines being adhered to.”

Doug Quattrini, CPCE, NACE National President, stated, “The events industry has experienced incredible loss and damage due to the ongoing pandemic. Live events aren’t just business meetings and social occasions; they’re part of society’s fabric. For the nation to recover and heal, the live events business has to recover, and there is an urgent need for us to address the unique nature of event businesses and to make sure event professionals have a seat at the table.”

You can view a copy of the letter developed in partnership with NACE headquarters below, and chapters can use it for their efforts.


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