More accustomed to building elaborate staging for events like Electric Daisy Carnival, Gallagher Staging and Production is now producing medical facilities and supplies. (Insomniac)
Gallagher, Mountain among dozens providing structures, resources to battle COVID-19
Even as they grapple with the economic hit leveled by the coronavirus pandemic, live event production companies like Mountain Productions and Gallagher Staging and Productions are teaming up with others in their industry segment to help in the life-and-death struggle posed by the crisis.
Gallagher, which last year provided the main stage at Coachella and was slated to do so again this year before the event was postponed, and Mountain, the largest staging company in North America and known for its work at Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, Live 8 and the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia, have pivoted to providing temporary emergency structures and other resources for use by government and agencies in healthcare and other settings.
Both companies are joined in their efforts by dozens of others, including top players in live event and entertainment industry production.
Gallagher — along with Silent House Productions, Go For Site Management, Joe Lewis Co. and All Access Staging and Productions — helped organize the Southern California-based collective Entertainment Industry Response LLC to supply coronavirus resources.
“Essentially a bunch of industry folks were calling each other, seeing how we could help each other, and we decided we needed to get organized and attack this head-on, together,” Gallagher Staging CEO Joey Gallagher said. “It’s been an amazing response, not just from companies in our industry but freelancers as well.”
Transitioning from the company’s traditional role of providing staging at events like the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, Outside Lands in San Francisco and Google I/O developer conferences or building custom sets and staging for The Walt Disney Co. in Florida and California required some nimble adjustments, Gallagher said. But the void left by the industrywide shutdown meant resources, including many people ready to volunteer their time, were available for a new mission.
“As a company, we certainly had to make some quick changes,” Gallagher said. “We went from handling a minimum of 30 projects a day to absolutely zero. When I first heard that cities were going to be short on medical facilities and supplies, a lightbulb went off. Our industry has all the resources available to help this situation immediately with temporary site build-outs as well as high-level manufacturing.”
Among the tasks at hand for Gallagher and other companies is developing standard operating procedures for crew health and safety to limit exposure for those doing installations.
“We are also gathering all resources available within the industry, with multiple companies that are manufacturing face shields, masks, beds, so it’s not just temporary structures or facilities. We can provide medical resources as well,” he said.
The collaboration in providing disaster relief among live entertainment companies is typical of the industry in times of need and was recently evident in the wake of the deadly tornadoes that struck west and middle Tennessee, including the East Nashville area, in early March, Gallagher said.
Organizations like Just a Bunch of Roadies have been organizing industry relief efforts around the world for years, he said.
“In some situations, the entertainment industry arrives before the military,” Gallagher said.Mountain, meanwhile, is deploying systems for a variety of uses — ranging from testing locations to temporary office spaces — in Philadelphia, Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
Mountain has been joined by Clair Global — which provides audio, communications, data and other live event services — and more than 25 other industry partners over the past three weeks, according to Mountain Productions CEO Ricky Rose.
“The COVID-19 outbreak took hold of the globe and our team reacted immediately to heed the call of the nation from manufacturing our own PPE (personal protective gear) gear for first responders, nurses and doctors to reengineering our staging systems and structures to accommodate temporary hospitals for those who need these types of facilities most,” he said in a statement emailed to VenuesNow.
Getting the word out to authorities of what’s available has been a continuing process, but with agencies coming to understand the industry’s capabilities, “we’re finally starting to get some traction,” Gallagher said.
“We’re working with multiple vendors to deploy tent systems and we are really hoping we can start building out some larger facilities as well as testing sites,” he said.
The pandemic has affected the live events industry as acutely as any, with thousands of tours, festivals, sporting events, meetings, conventions and exhibitions canceled or postponed.
“The entertainment industry came to an immediate standstill,” Gallagher said. “Before anyone else, the industry was the first impacted.”
And yet, companies have responded and venues from convention centers to arenas and stadiums have been pressed into service as field hospitals, shelters, supply depots, testing sites and more.
Gallagher, like others, sees the live events industry playing a key role in the return to life as it was known before the spread of COVID-19 ravaged lives and livelihoods.
“Not just because I believe demand will be high, (but) also because we’re all teaming up to tackle this terrible situation as a complete unit, which will create an even better working environment for the future,” he said. “Everyone loves going to a show, they love a live event, being around other people who have the same interests will always be a need. Some of us maybe took it for granted. I think that this, more so than not, has created a little bit more community across the nation, not just within our industry but with our audience.”
Gallagher does see some permanent changes, once the crisis recedes, the need “to follow even stricter guidelines when it comes to health and safety of employees, artists and guests” chief among them, he said.