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In the short term, she has begun applying for jobs outside of the entertainment industry, including a temporary position working for the Canadian Census. She hopes to find this sort of temporary work and is hopeful her skill-set is transferable to other areas until companies in her sector are able to relaunch.

“I can build stuff, I can paint things, I can also work at a desk, I can do schedules, I can work with the team,” she says. “But it’s finding places where those skills are cross-applicable.”

Paynter is one of 53,739 Alberta workers that the Canada Council for Arts identifies as being part of the province’s cultural sector, which contributes $5.3-billion to Alberta’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When the pandemic hit in March, the impact on live-event workers was immediate. An industry based on large gatherings, it was the first to go down and will likely be the last to relaunch. Nearly seven months later, the industry is still dark and thousands of well-trained behind-the-scenes technicians, many with decades of experience under their belts, have remained  largely unemployed and continue to face an uncertain future.

Sabrina Mueller is one of Calgary's live-event workers participating in a national social media campaign to bring awareness to those in the cultural sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sabrina Mueller is one of Calgary’s live-event workers participating in a national social media campaign to bring awareness to those in the cultural sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. jpg

Earlier this week, local workers, suppliers, technicians and venues took part in a Day of Visibility for the Live Event Community, a national campaign that found venues, buildings and homes being lit up in red and photographed to  share on social media. Across the country, visual representations were set up for an hour after after sundown on Tuesday in support of live-event workers. In Calgary, the main event of Light Up Live YYC was held at Olympic Plaza, while more than a dozen venues were expected to participate by illuminating their buildings with red lights from 8:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. In Calgary, workers were also encouraged to post selfies on social media of them holding up a piece of paper that identified who they are, what they do and what they miss about their industry. While this is a Calgary initiative, it has been picked up by other cities across Canada.

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