Local entertainment venues await incoming federal aid as live shows resume

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

The US Small Business Administration plans to start rolling out COVID-19 assistance to these businesses next week through the Shuttered Venue Operators grant program. The program will provide $ 16 billion in grants to performance venues across the country, with grants of up to $ 10 million per company.

At Winchester in Lakewood, live music is back.

Owner Tim Benedict said they started hosting groups a few months ago when health orders were first authorized.

“Obviously our occupancy rate is very low. We started doing 60 personal shows, ”said Benedict.

Even though the crowds are smaller, it’s still a welcome boost to the results of Winchester which took a huge hit when the shows took a hiatus.

“Oh high time. I mean, you think, on weekend nights when we were making thousands, we started making hundreds, ”Benedict said.

Benedict said they had managed to get by with a front-of-house catering service and are now hoping to secure a share of the closed-site operator subsidy program.

“Our fingers are crossed. I mean we lost a lot of income last year so that kind of money would be huge for us so we really hope, ”said Benedict.

But as many in the industry are patiently waiting for this money, they are staying afloat the same way they did during most of this pandemic – with help from the community.

Susan Csendes, who was fired from her box office job at the Jacobs Pavilion, hosted the Music and Friends garage sale at the pavilion on Saturday.

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

“These people sell everything from drum kits and guitars to concert posters,” Csendes said. “It’s not only the artist who doesn’t play and don’t work, but it’s all the people who support them.”

This is the second sale organized by Csendes. She said the first one in October made a huge difference in the lives of a lot of people and she hopes this one will do the same.

“They’re back on insurance, they can pay their mortgage, it was a less scary position because they were able to generate the money and that was due to the music lovers in Cleveland,” Csendes said.

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

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