Leadership / 10.28.20
Proposed Bill Would Provide Relief for Theaters, Music Venues
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10/26/20) Varine, Patrick
Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed the PA Save Our Stages Act, a potential lifeline for those who earn a living in the state's live music and entertainment business. COVID-19 hit the sector hard, as related businesses struggle to pay their financial obligations despite a lack of money coming in. Rich Berkowitz, executive director of the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, sums up the challenges. “Venues rely on traveling artists, who without a national plan can't work the economies of scale to effect touring,” he explains. “In addition, the scale required to create acceptable margins normally requires people to be in close proximity to each other and the social distance spacing inhibits that from happening.” If House Bill 2894 passes, though, independent venue operators, organizers and promoters, and others could find relief through a $200 million grant program. Applicants who meet qualifying criteria — such as 500 or fewer full-time employees — are eligible for up to $2 million in assistance for payroll and benefits, rent, utilities, insurance, and other expenses. “It is critical that we make an effort to preserve this industry which is a jewel of the Commonwealth's cultural crown,” says Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Hill District), who sponsored the legislation. He notes that Pennsylvania's live music ecosystem, with 225 independent venues, employed 10,000-plus people last year and generated some $1.36 billion in business.
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Tags: Theater , News , Venues , Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus