PHOTO/FRANK X. MULLEN: Downtown Reno landmarks and buildings were bathed in red light Sept. 2 to bring attention to the RESTART Act, which would help businesses shut down by the pandemic. The Space Whale is in the foreground.

Buildings and landmarks in Reno, Sparks and around Northern Nevada turned scarlet for a few hours the night of Sept. 2 to bring attention to businesses that have shut down and people who were thrown out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artown is spearheaded the local effort to “Paint Our Town Red” to shed a bright scarlet light on the need for the live events industry to get relief funding through the RESTART Act.

“One hundred percent of the local, regional and national live event industry has been impacted or prevented from drawing an income during the pandemic,” said Oliver X. marketing director for Artown. “This is a $1 trillion industry which feeds other industries. So when you have a live event, you have parking, restaurants, valets, taxi, ticketing, security and others. There is wide-ranging impact on multiple economies of scale.”

To gain national attention to the crisis, many Reno-Sparks hotels and landmarks were illuminated in red Tuesday night, Sept. 1 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The regional display was live-streamed nationwide, with reports and check-ins from 50 U.S. cities.

The effort was coordinated by We Make Events North America (#RedAlertRESTART), with an about 1,500 buildings lit in red in more than 50 U.S. cities from coast-to-coast. The goal: to raise public awareness about the economic plight of the live events industry, and to urge Congress to pass the RESTART Act as well as extend financial assistance to unemployed workers.

IMAGE: RED ALERT: A national effort to bring awareness to (and bolster support for) for the national RESTART Act.

Oliver X. said those who wish to directly help local unemployed performance artists may do so through the From Reno With Love Artists’ Fund, but the main push of the Paint Our Town Red initiative was to raise awareness of the RESTART Act, now stalled in Congress.

Constituents asked to contact lawmakers

“It’s important to call, email or otherwise contact members of Congress about the RESTART Act,” he said. “Public support matters.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is on the Senate Finance Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would help small businesses affected by the pandemic, especially those who have been hit hardest and devastated by the shutdowns.

“The need for additional federal aid to help small and mid-sized businesses rebound from the corona virus pandemic is critical,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “… (RESTART) would provide small and mid-sized businesses with low-interest loans to cover six-months of payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses, and offers flexible terms for forgiveness based on how hard their businesses have been hit. This bipartisan effort would benefit many Nevadans.”  

COVID-19 brought the curtains down in March

Stages, halls, clubs and most live-performance venues shut down in March when the COVID-19 lockdown began and haven’t reopened since, creating a financial crisis for the nation’s performance artists, events workers and related businesses and employees. The live events industry in North America employs 12 million people and has an estimated combined economic impact of nearly $1 trillion.

The statistics are grim:

  • 98% of performance-related companies have cut staff
  • 97% of freelancers have lost all of their income
  • 77% of the people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their incomes

The buildings and landmarks in the Reno-Sparks area that participated in the Red Action Alert included: the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts; the Grand Sierra Resort; The Nugget Casino Resort; Bruka Theater; the Reno Arch; Reno’s BELIEVE sign, THE ROW, Reno; the LOVE sign at Renown Medical Center; Crux Events in Verdi; and Artown.

PHOTO/FRANK X. MULLEN: Skateboarders roll in front of the BELIEVE sign in downtown Reno Sept. 1.
EDITOR'S NOTE: EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally posted in advance of the "Red Alert" event and was updated Sept. 2 after it took place. 

PHOTO/STAN WHITE/NEWTORENO.COM: The old arch was red before it was blue and white.

Join the Conversation


  1. Serious think another color would’ve a better choice (purple/green/yellow???)…At this moment, red OR blue could have negative aspects.

  2. In todays society ALL colors have a negative aspect somewhere within. It seems this is the way the average American has become. One giant snowflake, making racial judgement on things they hear have a color and not even things they see with their own color based racial judgments. As for the live entertainment, well I thought that was up and running? I mean I watched our governor enjoy a live band as he ate a lovely meal with his wife and some friends. Oh wait a minute that was “ambient music.” My bad, I gues a four person band playing live next to your dinner table is not live entertainment. My question is why is this hypocrite still in office? This is twice he has been caught violating his own Nazi orders he issues through his alleged science based decision making he hands down upon us peasants. Well I refuse to bow to the king of nothing, in fact i prefer to have him pay the ultimate price for his destruction of our states economy. And yeah it is his fault, he made the so called science based decisions that ultimately ran our state to poverty like never seen before. And for the record there still is NO SCIENCE behind this whole pandemic, it constantly changes and now it is basically a common cold virus that was miss handled and over treated from the start. And now they want vaccines to be a mandate. F You, look at the real science in the last coronavirus vaccine attempt. It killed most all of its subjects after it had a promising and great looking model to successfully vaccinate its subjects. There is nothing positive about a rush science, and worst yet this is a race to win a 3/4 trillion dollar paycheck. If you think that is not filled with corruption and lacking in safety protocols then you have been living under a rock for the last 100 years.

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