Ryan Choura and his team are in the business of creating massive pop-up villages and party venues.
From building tent structures to providing lounge furniture, decorations, dishes, bars, sound equipment, lighting and even the floors, his event company Choura puts together infrastructure at major events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the BNP Paribas Tennis Open in Indian Wells and the X Games.
But all of those gigs have dried up as the the novel coronavirus pandemic has pushed organizers to postpone and cancel large public events to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
So Choura is changing things up, and instead of preparing for concerts, his company is jumping right into the battle against the virus.
“We started looking at hospitals and those kinds of things and we knew they needed other facilities…when you look at other countries the hospitals couldn’t handle the capacity of what’s going on and so we shifted,” Choura said.
The Torrance-based company, which employs about 200 people, is now working with medical officials and others to build tents and other infrastructure at hospitals to be used for things such as testing facilities or whatever other needs arise during the pandemic.
The first build started on Friday at Lakewood Regional Medical Center and another is set for Torrance Memorial Medical Center and the company is in talks with several other local hospitals. It is also working on structures to use as drive-by testing facilities.
The decision to switch gears came swiftly for the company as one event after another fell through.
Choura, who started the company 13 years ago when he was 28 years old, said they had just completed a months-long build for the two-week long BNP Paribas Tennis Open in Indian Wells when he got the word that because of the outbreak the tennis tournament was canceled.
“That one we had built completely and that’s when everything came out,” Choura said.
“We had built new restaurants, new bars, all new experiences and it was so beautiful,” he said.
Choura was in his office when he first heard the news that it had been canceled.
“The thing our company realized quickly was, ‘Oh my God, this thing is so serious,’” he said.
Then, things got worse.
News followed that Coachella and Stagecoach, his next big gigs, both had been postponed until October. And that was followed by news of the cancellation of his next big event, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, which the company was also set to help build.
Worried about his employees, their families and the pandemic that was happening, Choura figured if they could put up a small village for festivals, they could put their skills to use for something far more important.
“This is mass amounts of people that are panicking about whether or not they have (COVID-19). Hospitals are trying to care for people, and in order for doctors and health organizations to act effectively, they are looking to us to build the most effective, efficient layouts possible,” he said.
The tents he’s building for hospitals, like all his builds, aren’t simply a few poles and some material. They are more like buildings with hard walls, glass doors, windows and floors.
And while Choura never imagined that he would be building hospital facilities during a pandemic instead of structures for music festivals and other celebrations, he’s found a lot of meaning in his new gig.
“The reality is if we do this right we potentially can save somebody’s life, we can be a part of helping somebody get healed,” he said.
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Source: Orange County Register