Confirming that COVID-19 has represented a $150 million blow and the cancellation of 1,000 performances, Puerto Rico’s entertainment sector asked the government to activate the Recovery Plan presented in May and demanded special attention to the issue of aid and incentives for its workers.
The entertainment industry has remained in shutdown mode since the government issued the first Executive Order ordering the closure of venues in mid-March to curb the spread of the virus on the island.
The plan presented in May included a request for an extension of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for self-employed people, which includes actors, technicians, set designers, costume designers, script writers, and theater ushers, among others. Puerto Rico’s entertainment sector comprises 30,000 workers, Nelson Castro, president of the Puerto Rico Producers Association said, on behalf of the industry.
“Six months later, the estimated losses of the entertainment industry amount to $150 million. More than 1,000 shows have been canceled on the island since last March and more than 30,000 are awaiting the consideration of the government to activate an aid and benefits package, to stop the agony of this industry,” he said.
While the entertainment industry has been dark since mid-March, Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced that a new Executive Order will go into effect on Sept. 12 that requires the approval of the Chief of Staff to perform concerts, theater productions and corporate activities.
Puerto Rico’s entertainment industry groups some 45 specialties and/or services; 900 of which are event producers; about 90% of industry workers are self-employed.
The recovery agenda presented incorporated two other issues: security measures, which include the requirements and protocols for opening venues and face-to-face events in phases.
“Our industry is one of the most affected and one of the ones that will take the longest to recover. Even when the government authorizes the reopening, we will have to guarantee all the security measures for the protection of our public and gain their trust so that they can come together again to enjoy face-to-face shows,” Castro said.
According to the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, Puerto Rico’s entertainment industry generates $2.1 billion a year.