PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been an uphill battle for music and art venues during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We took out huge loans to sit on our rears and do nothing. We are spending money just to exist,” said Liz Berlin, who owns Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale.
“The PPP money that’s come and gone, we talk about stopping the bleed, but it just keeps continuing to go and go,” said Charlie Stage, who owns Crafthouse Stage and Grill.
Hope could be around the corner for theaters and music venues across the country.
“It’s money that’s already been spent. Mortgages, utilities, payroll, that’s for the last nine months when you had no money coming in,” said Brian Drusky, who owns Drusky Entertainment.
The $900 billion coronavirus relief package contains a $15 billion Save Our Stages Act. That act allows local artists, venues and promoters to recoup 45 percent of their losses in grant money. While it won’t have to be paid back, the owners aren’t sure it’s enough.
“If you told me in March we’d still be sitting here at Christmas time, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here we are so what does that mean? Is this money suppose to last me two months or a year?” Stage said.
While this potential Christmas miracle may help the industry survive, there is a long road ahead until things return to normal.
“Fifteen years from now, we will still be enduring some of this debt that we’ve been asked to take on. Everyone else will have forgotten about coronavirus. We will still be living it in 2035,” Stage said.
These owners estimate about 10,000 entertainment workers were impacted by the pandemic in Pittsburgh.