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‘Keep Live Alive’ Show Raises Funds For Sidelined Entertainment Workers In St. Louis

As a longtime professional in the live entertainment industry, Greg Hagglund watched far too many livelihoods crumble around him over the past year. It wasn’t just performers and audience members who were impacted as event after event was canceled and venue after venue closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The behind-the-scenes crew, promoters and so many other workers were also out of a job.

“They’re the ones that have been hurt the hardest,” Hagglund explained. “You start to look at how many people it takes to put on a concert — the checklist is the same if it’s Busch Stadium or Delmar Hall. You still need wait staff, bartenders, sound technicians, lighting directors; the list is endless in terms of the amount of people.”

Hagglund hasn’t forgotten about those workers. In recent months he’s collaborated with other industry veterans on a way to help them: Keep Live Alive St. Louis. The effort has already raised more than $20,000 for eligible workers, who can apply for a $1,000 grant.

Keep Live Alive St. Louis has already raised more than $20,000 for live entertainment workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Keep Live Alive St. Louis
Keep Live Alive St. Louis has already raised more than $20,000 for live entertainment workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

But it’s not just a fundraiser — it also involves a virtual show all in support of the good cause. Produced by the St. Louis Classic Rock Preservation Society, a 90-minute entertainment special gets underway at 7 p.m. March 12, with interviews and performances featuring local and national artists, comedians, on-air personalities and more. The show is free to watch, but donations are encouraged.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Hagglund joined host Sarah Fenske to tell us more about Keep Live Alive St. Louis and his hopes for his industry in the months and years ahead.

More than anything, the goal is to help people be able to stay in these careers that they had before the COVID-19 crisis.

“That’s what we’re hoping, with these grants, that we can help them along till we can come out of this pandemic, so that they don’t have to leave the industry,” Hagglund said.

In addition to raising money for those grants, the show premiering on March 12 is intended to raise awareness about just how major an impact the pandemic has had on St. Louis’ live event scene.

“This is a very vibrant concert market, it’s a very vibrant live event business,” Hagglund said, citing theatricals, music and sports. “So [it’s] a way for us to highlight and kind of explain all about these people that are behind the scenes, as well as raise awareness for how devastating it has been for them.”

From musicians Sammy Hagar and Kevin Cronin to comedian Paula Poundstone, the entertainment special features big names and personalities. Hagglund said they’ve all been refreshingly quick to sign on to the project.

“It took one call to ask them if they would participate, and the answers were a resounding ‘yes,’” he said. “In fact, as we were continuing to edit the special and getting ready for our deadline on the 12th, the phone was still ringing from people that wanted to help and be able to participate.”

Do you work in the local live entertainment industry? How have you been impacted by the pandemic? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the AirFacebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.