FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Appleton venue asking for community’s support to save entertainment industry

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APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – An iconic Appleton venue is asking for the community’s support as Congress reconvenes.

The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, like many other businesses, was largely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the PAC is asking arts enthusiasts to voice their support for legislation that can help the live performing arts industry as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt. There are two acts in Congress that would have a direct impact in supporting organizations, like the Fox Cities PAC.

According to the release, the Americans for the Arts most recent study in 2016 found the nonprofit arts industry contributed $58.4 million in economic activity in the greater Fox Cities Region alone. That includes supporting 1,613 full-time equivalent jobs and $5.5 million in local and state government revenue.

“It’s important to recognize that in the business of live events and performances, where we often gather in large groups to share in these amazing moments, we were one of the first industries who felt the immediate economic impact of a complete shutdown. As we continue to develop a plan that can bring performers, staff and audiences together again, it’s also apparent we will be one of the last industries to return,” says PAC President, Maria Van Laanen. “Several plans have been proposed in legislature to address the needs of our industry, we proudly stand in solidarity with venues around the country in asking for assistance as we endure this extended intermission.” 

The Save Our Stages Act, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), was designed to make grants eligible to live venue operators, producers, promoters, and representatives to address the economic effects from COVID-19. These can offset operating costs like payroll, utilities, and personal protective equipment.

The RESTART Act, introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), both of which would ensure the survival of independent venues, theatres, and event promoters across the nation.

The bill extends the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established to support small businesses in response to COVID-19, for certain businesses, and it establishes a loan program whereby the Small Business Administration can guarantee loan amounts to certain businesses affect by COVID-19.

According to the PAC, the live event industry is experiencing upwards of 90% revenue loss and will be closed into 2021 due to safety concerns posed by large gatherings.

“We’re working closely with medical professionals to understand how the virus spreads so when we are safely given the okay to have large crowds together again, there will be the right protocols in place,” Van Laanen tells WFRV Local 5.

Now, the PAC is encouraging the community to review the bills and contact their representatives. Locally, the PAC says the community can make a gift to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center’s Act 2 Fund, which will bring educational experiences through the arts to students’ desks, ensure top talent continues to perform, and more. For more information on the Act 2 Fund, visit the PAC’s website.

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