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Live Entertainment Gets Caught Between Politics And The Pandemic – Forbes

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It’s Halloween 2021 tonight. I have a concert to attend, one of the acts to whom I’ve paid attention has invited me to see them live. So, I’m abandoning my traditional “trick or beer” routine and heading down to a lovely smaller theater in my town for an evening in a crowd. Prior to 2020 and the pandemic this was my routine, in bigger or smaller rooms, several nights a week, almost every week. Then, as we all know the world changed.

What we didn’t know then, and what we are still learning now is that the world will not change back easily. That’s the true horror of tonight, the night when we face down demons and hopefully appease them with candy.

Although we have many ways in which to moderate the effects of the pandemic, we’ve politicized the process and made it a badge of identity to be for or against ameliorating its effects. As a result, live events continue to cancel, postpone or those which play do so to diminished audiences as those fans afraid to get ill simply stay home. 

It is near impossible to mount a tour and survive the expense unless you are in the top 10% of all acts, and absolutely impossible when you are at risk of intermittent cancellations due to Covid.  The same is true for Broadway shows which spend millions to ramp up and cannot afford to close for three days when their stop in Cleveland is for only 6 nights.

Live entertainment seems lucrative. It is for those lucky enough to sell out everything in the venue. For most though, it’s a tremendously risky enterprise to go out on the road. The expenses run every day: travel costs, per diem, union labor, security, and marketing. Money is advanced to secure venues, hotel rooms, trucks, and the labor pool to build and break down the event at every venue. When one or a series of shows postpones as a result of the pandemic, those costs are borne and lost. Although the even may eventually play in the future, that simply means the costs will repeat for a tour that’s already out.

Typically, a postponement due to Covid-19 simply puts a freeze on the tour until the the threat is cleared. That variable makes touring like roulette where you never know when the ball will land on green. It takes an inherently risky proposition and throws in a potentially bankrupting variable. This is, in great part, why there are far fewer tours committing to tour now at a time when there is usually a rush to get tickets on sale in time for holiday gifting.

This additional economic risk is also one placed upon consumers who used to buy tickets blithely assuming they would be in attendance for the show purchased on the date promised. Now, there are billions of dollars worth of tickets which have been sold in 2019 for events which have still not played, and c0nsumers are resulting and understandably reluctant to spend significant money for a future event which may or not go forward as scheduled. Their behavior is changing to more last minute purchases to reduce their risk of long hold times, choosing instead to keep their money and spend it more like they would for a restaurant or bar: in real time on the date of the event.

Go back and look at the podcasts and stories I’ve published. They always circle back to the same theme. Live entertainment is the collective cathartic experience of a crowd. It’s that jolt of pure joy which spreads through you when the band kicks things into gear and the crowd explodes. That can come from the way in which The Foo Fighters bring Times Like These up from a slow start to a rocking finish or when the lead singer of a local band jumps off the stage and over the barrier into a crowd of barely dressed girls who are agog at the prospect of being 5 feet from the stage and beneath the crowd surfer. It is positive energy. It’s love radiating and empowering everyone within the space.

Although we have many ways in which to moderate the effects of the pandemic, we’ve politicized the process and made it a badge of identity to be for or against ameliorating its effects. As a result, live events continue to cancel, postpone or those which play do so to diminished audiences as those fans afraid to get ill simply stay home. 

Where we once stood together at ball games and BBQs, in concert halls and on festival fields, a poison has spread. It is commonly said there is no ”I” in team.” Over the past several years that has mutated to where there is also no “we” in team. It’s “them” and “us.” As a result, civility suffers and the bond which holds this country together has been swapped for the hatred which is pulling it apart.

But sadly, this is now our life as the war rages on across social media, Facebook, and through the increasingly narrow targeted news distribution outlets. We are no longer one country which holds ourselves out as Ronald Reagan described:  America is, and always will be, a shining city on a hill

As the doorbells ring all evening tonight, with ghosts and witches, cowboys and unicorns all seeking a treat while “threatening” a trick, there is a lesson there too. These children know that the treat does not come because of the threatened trick. It comes from the love of the community for their children. 

As you face down the devil at your doorstep today and appease him or her with some candy, perhaps think about trying that with the “devil” you harangue on social media. Maybe, you both like the same television show, are trying to learn the same song on the guitar, or both have a real desire to see Paul McCartney play one more time.

A society is the sum of its members. My suggestion is we note the change in seasons and remember what we once took for granted. United we stand, divided we Fall. We beat polio, together. Smallpox is no longer a threat. The only cholera at the opera appears onstage. Even the Nickelodeon’s “The Angry Beavers” had a sense of humor. Perhaps a look at their antics might put ours into perspective.

Happy Halloween all. May you receive the candy you desire and sleep free from the demons which haunt you. I will be listening to live music, beer in hand, and raising a toast to each of you and to love, family and the speedy recovery of America – one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

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Women-in-politics group expands province-wide – Toronto Star

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See Jane Run, a grassroots organization promoting and supporting women interested in running for municipal office in the Saint John area, is expanding to help women across New Brunswick.

In a media release Friday, co-founder Katie Bowden said the municipal reform white paper will kick off the process for a series of November 2022 municipal elections. She said See Jane Run will be there to support female candidates and promote diversity provincially yet again.

“The 2021 election was a solid step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we see the diversity of our communities reflected around our province’s council tables,” Bowden said.

The sweeping municipal reforms mean 57 communities will have a municipal election next year, and 12 newly formed rural districts will elect councillors. Seven communities will hold by-elections to elect representatives for the communities merging with other municipalities.

Bowden said the 2022 election means they won’t have to wait another four years before working toward the goal of more diversity in municipal politics.

“We will be continuing to encourage and welcome Black, Indigenous, people of colour and gender-diverse folks to offer as candidates and join our group,” she said. “Ensuring there is a wide variety of perspectives heard both in the upcoming election and around the council table will be a huge win for our province.”

Formed in 2021, See Jane Run, which is run by volunteers, held a campaign college speaker series and private Facebook group for candidates and their campaign managers.

Along with Bowden, Rothesay Coun. Tiffany Mackay French and Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Brittany Merrifield also co-founded See Jane Run.

“There is no party system at the municipal level, so candidates are on their own,” Mackay French said in the release. “See Jane Run fills that void, building a non-partisan community of support around our candidate group, helping them navigate the election process, ask questions in a safe space, tackle challenges together, and understand how to be successful at the job they’re running for.”

In the process of becoming a not-for-profit, the organization plans to begin fundraising to offer its campaign college materials in both French and English.

“Municipal elections are part of the leadership funnel that will see us eventually reach gender parity in the New Brunswick legislature, and elect our first female Premier,” Merrifield said in the release. “It all starts close to home – and now is the time to start thinking about offering your candidacy next November.”

Merrifield won’t have to re-offer in the by-elections in 2022 when Grand Bay-Westfield merges with a chunk of the Westfield West LSD. The community will be one of seven holding a by-election to elect a councillor to represent what will become a former LSD.

Merrifield said the 2021 municipal election saw a significant uptick in the number of women running and an increase in the number of women who were successful at winning their election contests.

“The organization was key,” she said. “When you’re running municipally, there’s no party support. You’re kind of out there on your own.”

As a result, four of five of the communities in the region elected a female mayor and four of five communities increased the number of women around the council table, she said.

“We feel we played a small part in that. We built awareness about the fact that women in politics are a good thing for building your capacity for diversity around the table and better policy,” Merrifield noted.

She said women face challenges when entering politics that white male candidates don’t.

“Women carry heavy loads from a work perspective and a home perspective,” she said. “It’s about talking to women about the fact that they can take this on.”

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Russia criticises U.S. over threat of escalation with Iran at IAEA

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Russia on Friday chided the United States for threatening a diplomatic escalation with Iran at the U.N. nuclear watchdog next month unless it improves cooperation with the agency, saying it risked harming wider talks on the Iran nuclear deal.

The United States threatened on Thursday to confront Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency if it does not give way on at least one of several conflicts with the IAEA, especially its refusal to let the IAEA re-install cameras at a workshop after an apparent attack in June.

“I believe that demonstrates that our American counterparts lose patience but I believe all of us need to control our emotions,” Russia’s ambassador to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov told a news conference with his Chinese counterpart.

“I don’t welcome this particular statement of the U.S. delegation (at the IAEA). It’s not helpful.”

Indirect talks between the United States and Iran aimed at reviving the battered 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers are due to resume on Monday after a five-month break that started after the election that brought Iranian hardline President Ebrahim Raisi to power.

The 2015 deal lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities. Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran.

Iran responded by breaching many of the restrictions, reducing the time it would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb if it wanted to. Tehran denies that it would ever seek atomic weapons.

“The U.S. did not negotiate with the Iranians for a very long time and forgot that Iranians don’t do anything under pressure. If they are under pressure, they resist,” Ulyanov said, apparently referring to the fact that U.S. and Iranian envoys are not meeting directly.

 

(Reporting by Francois Murphy, Editing by William Maclean)

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Extremist Politics Threatens Chile's Economic Miracle – Bloomberg

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Chile has for decades been Latin America’s most stable nation and one of its most prosperous. Its pro-business outlook has drawn foreign direct investment and fueled economic growth, and its record in reducing poverty has been impressive. Much of that is now thrown into question. After the recent first round of elections, the two front-runners for the presidency are extremists — an ultraconservative who seems nostalgic for the dictatorial rule of Augusto Pinochet, and a leftist who promises not merely to reform but to dismantle Chile’s economic model. It’s hard to say which of these agendas might prove more toxic.

The candidate of the far right, José Antonio Kast, emerged with a narrow lead heading into the runoff vote on Dec. 19. His platform is thin on economics and heavy on social conservatism and authoritarian messaging. His counterpart on the left, Gabriel Boric, promises radical change to combat inequality, rein in capitalism and dethrone market forces. “If Chile was the birthplace of neoliberalism,” he explains, “it will also be its grave.”

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