PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The arts and entertainment industry is almost completely shutdown because the business model is built on bringing large groups of people together.

Pittsburgh has an extremely vibrant performing arts community, and it’s in a state of distress.

Every summer for 74 years, the CLO has made people smile with live musicals in downtown Pittsburgh, but this summer, the shows will NOT go on. It’s a devastating financial blow to the theater company.

“Seventy-five percent of our income for the entire year comes in June, July and August,” says Van Kaplan, Executive Producer and CEO of the Civic Light Opera, or CLO.

The CLO started a capital campaign to raise $3 million to make up for that loss.

Kevin McMahon, CEO of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, says more than 900 shows or events affiliated with the Trust have had to cancel or postpone just this summer.

KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen asked McMahon, “Would you say this is going to be devastating to the arts and entertainment industry?”

“Absolutely,” McMahon said. “I talk with my colleagues not only around Pittsburgh but around the country and around the world, and we are an industry that is in complete and total shutdown distress, both financially and emotionally.”

McMahon says a national survey found 12,000 small and mid-sized arts organizations that are shut down won’t be able to restart.

Right now, thousands of local people who work in the arts and entertainment industry are out of work.

Kaplan says the CLO normally employs almost 400 people every summer.

“They’re the ones that are hit the hardest. Not only the actors and musicians and the stagehands but the designers and the craftsmen that build our shows.”

McMahon adds, “We’re not often thought of as a big economic force but there are literally thousands of people in the Pittsburgh metro area that are directly involved in the production and presentation of art and entertainment.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is calling this an “intermission,” but how and when that second act will begin, no one is quite sure because social distancing is not economically feasible in large auditoriums like the Benedum Center.

Until they can perform in person again, there are online events from the CLO and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust here:

Kristine Sorensen