MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon August 28. She visited the Pabst Theater to meet with recipients of a grant that funded local entertainment venues affected by the pandemic.
Senator Baldwin and local representatives of the arts community said the Shuttered Venue Operator grant, known as SVOG, has made a big difference in keeping places like the Pabst Theater open during the tough times businesses have been in. faced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Pabst Theater hosts over 700 shows a year, generating approximately $ 250 million in economic activity for our city. March 11, 2020 was the last show we could do for 17 months, ”said Gary Witt, President and CEO of Pabst. Theater group.
“It’s an industry that depends on people going out of their homes and going to concerts or going to plays or musicals and that going away means tens and thousands of people have lost their jobs,” lost their livelihood, ”said the mayor of Milwaukee. Tom Barrett.
Many at the event spoke about the uncertainty and angst they felt at the onset of the pandemic and the financial hurdles they faced.
The fight inspired people like Witt to make their voices heard for the arts industry.
“On April 12, Easter Sunday, we officially launched the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) with one simple goal, and that was to save the industry,” Witt said.
“How essential our performing arts and all the arts are to our culture and our society was so evident,” said Senator Baldwin.
Senator Baldwin has supported NIVA, which many believe was a key part of securing SVOG funding for local venues and cultural institutions.
She added that this effort meant a lot to her because of her personal connection to the arts industry.
“I grew up in a preschool and first grade costume lab. I spent a lot of hours in a costume lab,” Baldwin said.
Senator Baldwin’s grandmother once helped the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a dressmaker when she needed someone to help her in the costume accessory store.
“Part of the grant helps you recoup some of the losses you suffered during the time and allows you to get back to full employment and make the necessary repairs to our building that we need to do,” Witt said.
This is why many arts-related companies say they are grateful for the support.
Mayor Barrett and the Milwaukee Common Council proclaimed the title of Senator Tammy Baldwin Day on August 28 in gratitude for her fight in this effort.
The Small Business Administration has awarded more than 11,500 SVOG awards totaling $ 9.3 billion.