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Local entertainment venues await incoming federal aid as live performances resume

Local entertainment venues await incoming federal aid as live performances resume
Posted at 10:45 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 23:11:32-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Music and entertainment venues are some of the businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but help is finally on the way.

The U.S. Small Business Administration plans to start rolling out COVID-19 aid to those businesses next week through the Shuttered Venue Operators grant program. The program will give $16 billion in grants to performance venues nationwide, with grants of up to $10 million per business.

At the Winchester in Lakewood, live music is back.

Owner Tim Benedict said they started welcoming bands back a few months ago when health orders first allowed.

“Obviously our occupancy is way, way down. We started doing 60 person shows,” Benedict said.

Even though the crowds are smaller, it's still a welcome boost to Winchester's bottom line which took a huge hit when shows took a hiatus.

“Oh big time. I mean, you're thinking, the weekend nights where we were doing thousands, we started doing hundreds,” Benedict said.

Benedict said they’ve been able to make it through with restaurant service in the front of the house and now they’re hoping to get a slice of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

“Our fingers are crossed. I mean we lost out on a lot of revenue last year so that type of money would be tremendous for us so we're really hoping,” Benedict said.

But as many in the industry patiently wait for that money, they’re staying afloat the same way they have for most of this pandemic -- with help from the community.

Susan Csendes, who was laid off from her job as a box office worker at Jacobs Pavilion, organized the Music and Friends Garage Sale at the pavilion Saturday.

Vendors, including musicians and venue owners, sold music-related items only to help each other generate income.

“These folks are selling everything from drum kits and guitars, concert posters,” Csendes said. “It’s not only the artist that's not playing and working but it's all the people that support them.”

This is the second sale Csendes has organized. She said the first one back in October made a huge difference in the lives of many and she’s hoping this one does the same.

“They're back on insurance, they can pay for their mortgage, it was a less scary position, because they were able to generate some cash and that was due to music lovers of Cleveland,” Csendes said.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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