“Without opportunities coming down the pipeline, I think a lot of venues will face the same fate the Rex is facing,” said the owner of Mr. Smalls.By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Word that the iconic Rex Theater is closing has several businesses on edge and concerned about the future of the concert industry.

Frances Musaraca and Skyler Scholl, members of the band The Roof, sat outside the Rex Theater on the South Side for hours Wednesday to pay tribute to a venue that is no more.

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“I can’t even begin to say how bummed out — I’m sure everybody is,” said Musaraca.

Needless to say, so are other music venue owners.

“We are constantly fighting a battle that we don’t make the rules for,” said Crafthouse Stage and Grill owner Charlie Stage.

Stage considers himself one of the lucky ones since some of his revenue comes from the bowling alley he owns next door. However, he says he’s still taking a huge hit when it comes to live shows.

“From a national traveling level, it’s zero since March,” said Stage. “Can’t have crowds, people can’t be standing, have to be seated at the table, limited on times we can serve alcohol,” he said.

Mr. Smalls in Millvale recently opened their coffee shop to try to make some cash, but the owners say it’s still a stretch.

“Without opportunities coming down the pipeline, I think a lot of venues will face the same fate the Rex is facing,” said owner of Mr. Smalls, Liz Berlin.

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Dozens of businesses in Pittsburgh are pushing for Congress to provide federal funding by passing the RESTART Act. The bill was introduced in May, and would provide funding for the hardest-hit industries.


Congressman Mike Kelly backs the bill, but says it hasn’t made any progress just yet.

Meanwhile, some local promoters like Brian Drusky have been trying to get local funding, but he said he hasn’t had much luck either.

“We already went down that road. Grants with the URA are a couple hundred dollars. Hundred-dollar grants aren’t gonna do anything for a year and a half,” said the Drusky Entertainment Owner.

Drusky said he’s also reached out to the county for help.

“The county has spoken with Brian Drusky periodically about the unique challenges facing the live events industry, but has not spoken with Rex ownership on the subject,” the county told KDKA’s Amy Wadas in a statement.

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Meantime, the city of Pittsburgh said Mayor Peduto has directed more than $12 million dollars to small businesses, organizations and residents impacted by the pandemic and has called on Congress to approve more funding for relief.