Colorado Event Alliance has help for frontline workers |

Colorado Event Alliance has help for frontline workers

New group has a modest fund for worker relief, and is working on advocacy for the state's events industry

Events at Vail's Donovan Pavilion and throughout the state have been postponed or cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new state group is trying to provide some relief for front line workers.
Zach Mahone | Special to the Daily |

Middle-of-the-night ideas can sometimes blossom into good projects.

Syd Sexton of the Design Collective had a late-night epiphany in April just weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down much of the state’s economy. About a week after that late-night brainstorm, the Colorado Event Alliance had been created, a volunteer board had signed on, and the group had filed paperwork with the state as a nonprofit organization.

Board member Brynn Swanson said the group’s purpose is to raise funds and advocate for the state’s event industry. That industry employs roughly 38,000 people around Colorado.

The event industry, from concerts to weddings to corporate meetings, has been hit hard by the economic shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Swanson said the group has support from about 600 companies, from transportation firms to caterers to planners. Assistance is available to anyone who works for a Colorado-based company with 500 or fewer employees.

Swanson said a company such as Marriott has resources not available to companies such as Vail’s Sonnenalp Hotel or the Donovan Pavilion.

The alliance’s relief fund is only about $20,000. But, Swanson said, that’s come without seeking grants, and without much formal fundraising. Every dollar so far has come from individual donors.

That money is available to qualified applicants for vehicle repairs, medical bills, rent and other needs.

There’s a lengthy application process, Swanson said. Applicants need to demonstrate actual need, and “active participation” in the events industry.

The alliance is also involved in advocacy for the industry, working on ways to get events back on the calendar as quickly as possible. That advocacy includes hosting seminars — virtually, of course — and working with state and local officials on ways to safely hold events.

Laurie Asmussen manages the Donovan Pavilion and other events in the valley. Asmussen said she’s impressed by how much the alliance has accomplished in a short time.

While there’s a big difference between the Donovan Pavilion and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Asmussen said she’s been following the alliance’s progress and its discussions.

“It’s been helpful seeing what other people are doing,” she said. And, she added, having a Western Slope presence in the group is important as it moves forward.

“They’re recognizing the importance of front line workers — they’ve really gathered a worthy group of professionals,” Asmussen said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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