News & Politics

48 Empty Tables on the Mall Will Represent How the Pandemic Has Clobbered the Live Events Business

"The Empty Event" will include a vacant stage and empty trailers as well

Photographs by Dan Swartz.
Coronavirus 2020

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A group called the Live Events Coalition plans to set up 48 empty tables on the National Mall Wednesday evening to highlight how the coronavirus pandemic has pummeled its members’ businesses.

Each of the tables near 12th Street, Northwest, will be dressed, the coalition says, and will represent a quarter million of the 12 million workers—including caterers, engineers, and planners—it says have been affected and send a signal to Congress that they need federal support. The empty tables will form a large “12.” The group also promises empty trailers, an empty stage and production sets, and a big LED screen.

The coalition is based in the District, and its members include local companies like Arlington’s Dufour Collaborative and DC’s Bravo! Events. Live events like galas, fundraisers, and awards shows have been walloped by the pandemic, as many media companies that relied on revenue from them (including the Atlantic and Washingtonian) have learned with some pain. The concert industry is similarly threatened: As I.M.P. spokesperson Audrey Fix Schaefer wrote in the Washington Post last week, if the shutdown lasts more than six months, 90 percent of independent venues “would fold forever.”

The “Empty Event”‘s tables will go up on the Mall Wednesday evening and be lighted this evening; they’ll be on view Thursday from 6 AM till noon.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.