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'We don't know how quickly our audience is going to return': Colorado venues and theaters seek relief

Bug Theatre one of many hoping for federal support
'We don't know how quickly our audience is going to be to return,' venues and theatres seek relief
Posted at 4:40 AM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 06:40:36-04

DENVER — The road to financial recovery for Colorado's venues and theaters is winding and uphill according to those that work in the entertainment and event industry, which was shuttered for over a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's a month-to-month just wondering are you going to have enough money to pay all your bills? Are you going to be able to make your rent?" said Eileen Agosta, vice president of The Bug Theatre's board.

In two weeks, The Bug Theatre will hold its first public show after more than a year of being closed to most public gatherings.

"Once we open, we expect that our expenses are going up to pre-pandemic levels, but we don't know how quickly our audience is going to return," Agosta said. "I think people are still a little nervous. They're still rolling out the vaccine."

Agosta said she and other staff members have applied for grants and federal assistance in hopes to gain financial relief while they wait and hope for their revenue streams to rebound.

"It would mean a lot if we could get some help," Agosta said.

According to a federal report released by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) this week, The Bug Theatre is one of nearly 14,000 theaters or venues across the country that applied for the SBA's Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program. The report says only one venue in Colorado was approved for funding.

The grant program provides venues with money equal to 45% of pre-pandemic revenue or up to $10 million.

In April, U.S. Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper pushed venues and theaters to apply for the grant program.

Denver7 reached out Hickenlooper about the current allocation of grant money. A spokesperson shared this statement: "Senator Hickenlooper spoke personally with the SBA Administrator about the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant. He urged the SBA to process applications as quickly as possible so Colorado venues receive much-needed relief."