Portland’s Production Community Forms Together4Oregon to Produce a Live, Virtual Fundraiser Benefiting Oregon Residents Hit Hardest by the Pandemic
Portland, Oregon – When the general public thinks about film, video and live event production they usually think of highly paid celebrities who can afford to be out of work for a few months. What they often don’t consider are the thousands of skilled, behind-the-scenes tradespeople who make those spectacular productions possible – electricians, carpenters,
gaffers, drivers, production assistants, ushers and concession workers. “When COVID hit, production in Oregon stopped overnight,” says Marc Koller, an independent learning consultant and one of the event’s lead organizers. “That meant that a whole lot of people in our state suddenly had no way to put food on their table. We have Oregonians who can’t pay their rent, their electric bill or their water bill. And some people were suddenly locked down in potentially abusive homes with nowhere to turn. I felt strongly that something needed to be done.” That ‘something’ has become an ambitious effort called Together4Oregon, bringing together production professionals from all over the state to mount a virtual fundraiser to be broadcast on KGW, Saturday July 18th 7:00-8:00pm and Webcast on the net with all our media patners.
Misty Marquam, a lead organizer and owner of the Portland-based Marquam Auction, is asking Oregon to step forward to participate. “We’re asking all of Oregon’s professional production community to help us make this event one for the history books,” declares Maquam. “Actors, athletes, musicians, event production professionals, cinematographers – we need everyone to bring whatever skill, talent, resources and connections they have to the table. And with only a handlful weeks to get this on its feet, we need them to bring it now.” One interesting aspect of the Together4Oregon effort is how it broadened its scope from benefiting only those in the production industry to workers all over the state. “As we started thinking about the event, we realized that our focus was too narrow,” says Rose Etta Venetucci, the first woman elected by IATSE local 28 as Business Representative. “All across our state workers from every industry, both union and non-union, have been hit really hard by COVID-19 in a myriad of ways. We quickly realized we needed a way to get our arms around as many of our fellow Oregonians as possible. This is one of the common misperceptions about unions – that we only help our own. But unions, and IATSE in particular, has always been about raising all boats for everyone in the community.”
To accomplish this, they choose four Oregon-based non-profits that would split the proceeds equally and cover as many of the urgently needed services as possible. Together4Oregon has selected: Sunshine Division, a Portland non-profit that provides emergency meals and food boxes. LSCA (Labor’s Community Services Agency) will handle worker outreach and bridge funds for families. Bradley Angle, a local non-profit dedicated to abuse survivors, will take care of those affected by domestic violence and fragile households. And finally, NAYA (Native American Youth and Family Center) will care for the needs of those so often neglected by policy protections and left out of mainstream fundraisers – our Native and Latinx community members. All of the proceeds directly benefit the selected charities and will be divided equally to help as many Oregonians in need as possible.
“We feel really good about our final non-profit choices,’ says Mike DiNapoli, owner of Next Level Event Productions and one of Together4Oregon’s key players organizing the event. “We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, but what we really need now is the entire community, and especially performers, to come forward and help make this fundraiser something really special. That’s the only way this is going to work. We really are depending on them to show up for our community.”