APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – After facing several months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is expressing gratitude for a long-awaited financial relief in the form of a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) in the amount of $1,300,886.95.

As one of the first industries to close in March 2020, live performing arts will also be among the last to reopen fully this fall, creating a large financial impact for venues across the country, including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

According to the Center, when it closed its doors during the pandemic, the loss of performances, events, and patron services forced the Center to take immediate action to reduce expenses by $2.5 million including furloughing 84 percent of staff, renegotiating contracts, and transitioning to remote work.

However, even with reduced expenses, holding virtual performances resulted in $5.89 million in expenses over the course of the building’s closure. Now, in efforts of helping our local Center open back up its curtains, the Small Business Administration is providing them with this grant which is said to be a ‘necessary piece in a larger financial recovery plan.’

P.A.C. officials note that this grant along with private contributions from generous businesses and individuals, have helped to narrow the gap, but due to the sustained financial impact of the pandemic, the Center is actively attempting to raise an additional $500,000.  

“We are grateful to all legislators who supported this much-needed relief, especially Tammy Baldwin and Mike Gallagher for their additional support during this process,” said Maria Van Laanen, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. “As one of the first industries to feel the economic impact of the pandemic, and an industry that will have spent nearly 18 months in an extended intermission, this financial support is crucial to preparing to welcome audiences back in person. It will assist us in entering the Center’s second act on solid financial footing and to continue providing exceptional, engaging and educational live performing arts experiences to our community.”