There are workers suffering through the pandemic who are not being considered. They are some of the most dedicated and wonderful of all workers. They are people dedicated to art; not their own art, but the creations and attractions of others.

Show biz workers are often forgotten about even when times are good. They include event planners, booking agents, talent representatives, venue managers, stage managers, costumers, choreographers, photographers, scriptwriters, promoters, reviewers, publicists, sound and light technicians, ticket takers, curators, security guards, valets, and coaches of various sports and arts disciplines.

These are the people who do not do the acting, dancing, singing, or comedy, but without whom the show couldn’t occur. They’re not the athletes, magicians, circus performers, stunt doubles, or daredevils, but they set the stage and let people know that something big is about to happen.

As a concert promoter, I feel a kinship to this group.

We help distract you from your worries or open your mind to activism and possibilities. From the book tour to the concert tour, we are there. People who like being home the least such as roadies, tour managers, and drivers are sheltering in homes that they rarely spend much time in. Makeup artists and hairstylists cannot be close to the clients they prepare for stage and film.

Usually, when we notice a community need, we are able to organize an event to raise money and awareness, thus contributing to the solutions that government and business might be neglecting. Hurricanes hit, forest fires burn, droughts occur, earthquakes happen — and we put on a show and try to do our best to mitigate the problem.

With the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, our manner of assistance has been largely cut off. To form an audience could lead to dangerous infections. This is the first time in my career I have known of severe depression within the cadre of show biz workers. We are a faithful lot. We work for the venue, artists, and audience simultaneously. We put ourselves into the center of activity so that all will go well. Now, for us, there is no such center.

David Wannop performs poetry at Polsky’s Game Shop in Woodbury, N.J., in December 2018.
Amanda Penecale
David Wannop performs poetry at Polsky’s Game Shop in Woodbury, N.J., in December 2018.

With galleries, pubs, cafes, concert halls, and stadiums shuttered, we do not have our livelihood or our socializing hubs. Most show biz workers live a lifestyle enveloped within the creative class, and the personal assistants live directly connected to one artist. Work, play, and personal relationships are intertwined. Travel is expected. Diversity required. It’s a cliché, but there really is no business like show business.

Recording engineers, photographers, video editors, and cinematographers are hurting. Many have been only occupied with the constant refrain of the show that has been canceled and recording has been postponed for a very long time now.

Please do me one favor — when the shows, art openings, and sporting events do reopen, try to have a bit of appreciation for the show biz workers. We’ve had a lifetime helping others to shine in the spotlight. When the coast is clear, we will need audiences to come back. We will need artistic funding to be reinstated. These jobs are often hard to do and difficult to make stable under the best of circumstances.

We are not asking for a rush to reopen, or for special treatment, but for due respect as we have always assisted you in the vast realm of ideas and creativity.

David W. Wannop is a concert promoter based in Center City.