MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of Minnesota’s major industries feels forgotten amidst the COVID-19 restrictions.

From weddings, to theatre, to largescale fundraisers, live events were a main event in Minnesota’s economy, to the tune of $12 billion annually. That was, until the pandemic paused production.

Jessica Barrett is an experience creator with Bigger Picture Solutions.

“Since the beginning of this, 90% of events have rescheduled or canceled, so it’s basically been everything across the board for everyone,” Barrett said.

She started her new venue booking company, right before the bottom dropped out.

“My income, I mean, it’s probably a quarter of what I was anticipating for this year,” Barrett said. “It’s really taken a nose dive.”

Mintahoe Catering & Events, who runs Nicollet Island, has taken a major hit, too. Alana Koderick works in sales.

“We furloughed about 75% of our staff. We lost 75% of our business or more as well, so we postponed at this point over 400 events since COVID started,” Koderick said.

So to get their point across, they did what they did best and decided to throw an event. There are no attendees, to raise awareness of the people who are out of work.

(credit: CBS)

Wendy Porter, who also works in the industry, heads up the group in charge — the Live Events Coalition of Minnesota.

“We feel lost right now,” Porter said. “We’re hearing a lot about hospitality, restaurants, hotels, but nobody is talking about our industry.”

From makeup artists, to lighting techs and all the jobs in between, each placeholder at Aria Event Center represents the many professions that have been displaced. It’s a silent scream for help.

“We need the congressional leaders, our elected officials to provide relief for us, to try to help us get that bridge so that we’re still here on the other side of this crisis,” Porter said.

The workers told WCCO they’ve had to call weddings off due to changing regulations. And as of Wednesday, they’ve had to cancel New Year’s events. They agree safety is key, but ask for assistance in the meantime.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield