Photo by Grace Ramsdell | Edited by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian
Joining 5,000 buildings across the United States, Wright State University’s (WSU) Creative Arts Center was seen lit red on Sep.1, in an effort to raise awareness for the financial devastation taking place in the live events industry during the coronavirus global pandemic.
Joe Deer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre Dance and Motion Pictures, was excited to hear of the awareness project and gladly allowed the Creative Arts Center to join in with the rest of the country in their efforts to raise awareness for the thousands of event workers experiencing job loss and monetary deficiencies brought on by the coronavirus.
“When professor Matthew Benjamin brought the idea to me, I thought ‘wow, what a great way for Wright State to help bring awareness to the tragedies that so many of our current students, alumni, and event workers around the world are facing right now.’ I had no hesitations.” Deer said.
How bad is it?
According to We Make Events, the live event industry provides more than 12 million jobs and is responsible for nearly $1 trillion annually towards the nation’s economy. However, since the start of the pandemic, the industry has seen a halt in 95% of live events, leaving event workers all over the country jobless and in search of a steady paycheck.
“There are so many jobs that have been lost that everyday people might not even think of. Stage hands, lighting techs, sound operators, gaffers, make-up artists, writers, you name it. All of these people have been severely affected by the coronavirus and are now struggling to make ends meet,” Deer said. “And who knows what will happen when live events come back. Some of these people and companies might not be able to fully recover at all.”
Upon deciding that the lighting of the Creative Arts Center would be lit red in conjunction with other venues following suit across the nation, students began to formulate a plan of action as to how the lighting would come to fruition.
Getting to work
WSU lighting major Micah Hardman was a pivotal member of the team that headed the project, and was happy to be a part of such a large movement.
“I was contacted by professor Matthew Benjamin in regard to lighting the Creative Arts Center, and I was happy to help. I talked with some of the other lighting students, and we began to figure out the logistics of the project,” Hardman said. “We had to figure out what kind of lights to use, how we were going to set up the architectural lights, what time they would be on, etc.”
The project turned out to be a complete success, as on the night of Sep.1 students and those driving near campus could see the bright red lights against the white Creative Arts Center building.
One passerby, Tyler Burton of Troy, OH., took note of the illumination and did some individual research as to what the meaning behind the lighting was.
“I was coming down to Wright State to drop off groceries to one of my friends who attends the University and I saw the entire side of the building lit red,” Burton said. “I thought it might have always been like that, which I thought was neat. I had no idea it was raising awareness until I asked my friend who goes to Wright State, and he assured me that it typically isn’t lit.”
After finding out that the illuminated side of the building was an awareness effort, Burton went to Google for more information.
“I love nothing more than attending concerts and going to live shows. When I saw the numbers on how many people were out of jobs I was blown away,” Burton said. “I knew the industry was huge, but when you see the numbers it really puts things into perspective.”
WSU looks forward to putting on more live shows and events in the future, but as for now programs are at a standstill.
Raiders can keep up-to-date on all performances and events hosted by the university by checking the WSU website as well as social media platforms.