Governor Evers’ Second Round of “We’re All In” State Grants Offers Relief for Live Music and Performance Venues Including Pablo Center
Pablo Center at the Confluence, Blue Ox Music Festival, The Grand Theatre, Eaux Claires Festival, Country Jam, Country Fest, Rock Fest, The Lakely, The Mable Tainter, The Plus, Big Top Chautauqua, and The Metro located in Western Wisconsin sincerely thank Governor Evers and his administration for allocating $15 million for live music and performance venues throughout Wisconsin as part of a second round of “We’re All In” grants and investments in tourism, entertainment and cultural venues. While venues across the state and nation remain completely closed in the midst of the pandemic, Wisconsin has recognized the cultural and economic impact its venues have on its local communities and has stepped up in an amazing way.
In late August, Wisconsin members of NIVA made an organized plea for help to the Governor, using other states that have allocated support for live entertainment venues (most impressively Montana) as examples. Citing that independent concert venues contribute over a billion dollars to Wisconsin’s economy, the effort drove home the message that the state’s economy simply cannot restart if its venues don’t survive the pandemic. The effort included a petition to the Governor that garnered close to 16,000 signatures.
While Wisconsin’s support is appreciated and important, it is a band aid that covers a deeper wound as venues across the state and country will continue to fight for critical, much needed funding at the federal level through NIVA. Of the 2,600 member venues across the country, 90% have reported they will be forced to close permanently without additional funding. “We have been sounding the alarm since April that if our members don’t get emergency assistance, they will go under forever -- and it’s happening,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, director of communications for NIVA. “This is real. We need help. We urge Congress and the White House to continue negotiations and reach a deal quickly or there will be a mass collapse of this industry. The Save Our Stages Act has already passed the House and has strong bipartisan support with more than 160 Congresspeople cosponsoring because they know independent venues can be part of our country’s economic renewal once it’s safe to welcome people back – if our venues can survive this pandemic. We’re also hoping for the sake of our furloughed employees that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be extended, as people are suffering through no fault of their own.” These venues were among the first businesses to close and will likely be the last businesses to open.
With support from the state and Governor Evers, Wisconsin will be a shining example for other states and encourage the federal government to get to work on a plan to save independent venues across the nation.