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Michael T. Strickland Honoured with “Heroes of Live” at Pollstar Live Awards

USA – Those in the entertainment industry know the adage, “the show must go on,” and even in the face of virtually no tours in 2020 due to the pandemic, the 2021 Pollstar Awards pivoted to honour artists, venues and events of the decade, as well as pay tribute to individuals who “went far and above their traditional day/night jobs to help the larger live industry and our communities in crucial ways that include altruism, advocacy, diversity and inclusivity and more.” Michael T. Strickland, owner and chair of Bandit Lites, was the first “Heroes of Live” recipient of the night due to his activism on behalf of the live events industry.

“I’ve spent the last 15 months split between entertainment and politics, working 18-hour days, making phone calls, on Zoom meetings, and doing television interviews,” said Strickland, who was hailed “The Congress Whisperer” in Pollstar 2021 Impact 50, which named the 50 most impactful people in Live Entertainment. “Testifying before the Senate in December allowed our voice to be heard directly.”

The result of his and others work was the passage of the CARES Act, enhanced unemployment and PPP funding, Save Our Stages, and the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants.

By uniting the industry’s efforts, Strickland shared live events professionals are powerful due to their strength in numbers.

“Everything we have done and achieved thus far is because of the millions of people that have taken action,” he said. “You’ve sent letters, you’ve sent emails, you’ve done tweets, and on September 1, we lit 2,500 buildings nationwide. Our strength is in our numbers, and you did it. It was not me; it was you: the millions of people who stood up and spoke out over and over and over. Our voice was heard. We stood up COV-AID and helped the White House and the medical industry deliver the vaccine nationwide.

Noting how the disparity in an industry comprised of 12 million people who have little to no voice in Washington, Strickland shared the next step in his activism: forming The Entertainment Association.

“Our biggest job is still in front of us,” he said. “The airline and restaurant industries went to congress in battleships, and we went in a thousand canoes … We must come together as an industry and we must form the Entertainment Association so that we have a voice on the Hill, and we are never again left out of the big show.”

22nd June 2021

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