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Live entertainment venues impacted by COVID-19 get $15 million in grants

Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 23:31:16-05

Nearly 100 live music and entertainment venues in Wisconsin received $15 million in grant money from the state.

The COVID-19 Live Music and Entertainment Venues Grant was aimed at offering some financial stability to an industry hit hard by the pandemic. Funding came from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was administered by the state's Department of Administration.

"The last nine months have been catastrophic to the arts community and a really debilitating for us as a theater," said Rhonda Schmidt, Executive Director at the Waukesha Civic Theatre.

Schmidt said they were able to keep most of their staff's hours until September when everyone had to be furloughed.

Venues in Milwaukee faced similar challenges.

They had to stretch their budgets and revamp their programming while losing millions of dollars.

"In addition to the lost revenue that resulted in us having to lay off a number of staff, all of our part-time and a number of our full-time," said Kendra Ingram, President/CEO of the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

"You don’t sleep. Every night is sleepless. You’re worried about your people. You’re worried about your staff. You’re worried about your patrons," said Chad Bauman, Executive Director at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Marcus Performing Arts Center, and Waukesha Civic Theatre all received some of the grant money.

"This relief funding helps us maintain staffing and running the building. The building is still open and alive and it’s a major facility," said Ingram.

"I think the most the thing I’m most excited about is it going to allow us to put people back to work," said Bauman.

Venues will continue to come up with new ways to share the arts safely and make some income as they expect to be the last to fully reopen.

"It’s going to be a slow recovery," said Schmidt.

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