New fund started to raise money for Pittsburgh's service and entertainment workers | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

New fund started to raise money for Pittsburgh's service and entertainment workers

click to enlarge IMAGE: NIGHT LIFE LINE
Image: Night Life Line
Most people in Pittsburgh haven't been to a concert in at least a year. Many haven't dined at restaurants or seen a play, or grabbed a drink at a bar. The pandemic shutdown has left many businesses in the entertainment and dining industries closed or limited, which also leaves workers in those industries struggling to make ends meet. Now, several local organizations are coming together to raise money for workers in need with Night Life Line, a new fund to provide grants to people in Pittsburgh's service and entertainment industries.

Night Life Line is the work of Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid (PRWA) and the National Independent Venue Association, two groups that have been working throughout the pandemic to support venues, restaurants, and their employees. The fundraiser launched on March 15, with a goal of raising $250,000, which will be distributed in need-based grants of up to $500. Donations are collected through the Night Life Line website, where workers can also apply for relief funds.

"Since our launch nearly a year ago, we’ve had thousands of requests from restaurant workers who need help with paying their rent, securing diapers for their children, or finding food for the week," says PRWA founder Kacy KcGill in a press release. "Many cannot access their unemployment payments. We still get requests daily.”


This is one of several efforts spearheaded by PRWA since the start of the pandemic to help supports workers in the industry. In March 2020, when restaurants and venues first shut down, PRWA launched a GoFundMe campaign to support workers that raised over $40,000. The group has also been distributing groceries and winter clothing to families in need, with a charity registry at Target set up for people to purchase items from their list.

In November, McGill, along with several nightlife industry workers, venue owners, and local politicians, gathered for a press conference outside Spirit in Lawrenceville to ask the Pennsylvania state legislature to use the $1.3 billion of the state's relief to help the struggling industry. Instead, the Republican-led legislature used it to patch holes in the state's budget, sending many funds to the Department of Corrections.

According to the U.S. Census, 1 in 10 residents of Allegheny County are employed by the nightlife industry, and that Pittsburgh's restaurant industry lost 31,000 jobs in 2020.

PRWA will match donations up to $10,000 through March 19. Applications for relief will open on March 31. 

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