The national shutdown of the last year-plus resulted in no in-person live music at indoor venues across the country, decimating their pockets just to keep the lights on. Initially called the Save Our Stages Act, it was folded into the American Rescue Plan passed in March. Now, those venues are finally getting that business-saving money.
The SBA handled the grant program to open up applications to venues across the country to receive some of the funding. Initially, very little help was coming very slowly.
“The SBA worked closely with the White House and other federal partners to process SVOG applications faster after the first two weeks of awards did not set the pace needed for this emergency funding,” the Small Business Administration said in a news release.
The action really ratcheted up over the last couple months. According to the release, only 100 venues had received grant money as of June 10. Today, that number stands at over 10,000.
In Pennsylvania, 17 organizations in Lehigh and Northampton counties listed by the SBA as recipients of the grants received nearly $10.8 million in funding.
Leading the way by a significant margin was Vision Entertainment Group LLC, which operates the Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem and received over $6 million. Easton’s State Theatre also topped the $1 million-mark, pulling in $1.4 million.
Also in the Lehigh Valley region, Penn’s Peak outside Jim Thorpe in Carbon County received just under $1.7 million, Sellersville Theater in Bucks County received $855,458 and Pocono Cinema & Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, received $99,462.
A number of other popular live performance venues in the Lehigh Valley also received the grant funding from the SBA, including:
- Civic Theatre of Allentown ($678,883).
- The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival ($514,749).
- The Allentown Symphony Association ($215,365).
- Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem ($42,936).
Two of the area’s most beloved local movie theaters got in on the action, too. Roxy Theatre in Northampton received $171,543, and Emmaus Theatre received $121,693. Bethlehem’s annual Celtic Classic received some funding, as well, netting $167,474 in grant money.
In Warren County, the recipients announced this week were Country Gate Players Inc. in Belvidere ($40,981), Blairstown Live-Arts Inc. ($50,315) and Centenary Stage Co. at Centenary University in Hackettstown ($216,873).
This is good news for the entire Lehigh Valley, and for local economies. A night out for a show at the State Theatre may be bookended by dinner at one of Easton’s local restaurants, or a first date to an indie movie at the Civic Theatre could be followed with a drink at a nearby bar. Keeping these venues and businesses not only alive but thriving pays itself forward across the Lehigh Valley.
According to the release, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant portal remains open and funding is still available for all eligible applicants. So, the funding isn’t stopping, and any Lehigh Valley arts and entertainment-centric businesses can still get in on the action.
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to lehighvalleylive.com.
Connor Lagore may be reached at email@example.com.