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Pabst Theater, local artists looking forward to President Biden's visit next week

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 23:27:11-05

MILWAUKEE — President Joe Biden's first official trip in office will bring him to Milwaukee. The President is set to host a CNN town hall event Tuesday at the Pabst Theater.

His visit comes at a time where venues nationally are in dire need of business.

“It's very significant and very much an honor [that] he chose Milwaukee for one of his first official visits,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Gary Witt, CEO of Pabst Theater said he is looking forward to Milwaukee’s showcasing.

“We do realize it's part of our mission and goals to always find ways to shine the spotlight on Milwaukee,” Witt said.

Biden's town hall visit comes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pabst, a venue, just like thousands across the country is suffering without live crowds and live performances. Its last show was Dave Chappelle, a 10 p.m. show on March 11.

“We were the very first ones to close and we will very, very likely be the very last to open up again,” Witt said.

Witt, alongside many peers, worked to form the National Independent Venue Association, or NIVA. The organization is responsible for launching the #SaveOurStages effort and securing a $15 billion grant program for the industry as part of COVID-19 relief.

“It's a tremendous help to us to be able to get a grant, not a loan, that's customized for our industry,” Witt said.

Biden's visit is also inspiring to local artists, like choreographer Christopher DeAngelo Gilbert.

“The fact that this is the first place he chooses to go to speaks to the point that he may be trying to get across,” Gilbert said. “That's one of our Madison Square Gardens, so for us, that means 'okay, you've been doing your research and that space invites people from all walks of life.'”

Witt said there is much work to be done in saving stages across America.

“It's a great opportunity to show the city the things we have in our city and we're proud of them,” he said.

The Pabst will likely host about 50 to 75 socially distanced people for Tuesday's town hall, Witt said. That number could change.

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