Cartwright announces $10.7M COVID-19 relief funds for local venues

Aug. 12—WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep Matt Cartwright Wednesday said Northeastern Pennsylvania has a rich culture of arts and music, but many of the businesses in those industries are hurting because of the pandemic.

Cartwright, D-Moosic, announced 12 venues in Pennsylvania’s 8th District will receive a total of $10.7 million from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) program.

Cartwright said he voted to establish the program through COVID-19 relief compromise passed in December 2020, then enhance it by helping pass the American Rescue Plan. The fund supports businesses in the music and entertainment industries that had to shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Establishing the fund specifically for venue businesses was a critical first step, and now businesses are starting to see that money hit their bank accounts,” Cartwright said. “I’ve been working hard to ensure that the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants program gets people in the music and entertainment industry back in good-paying jobs so they can put food on the table and take part in our economic revitalization.”

Anne E. Rodella, Artistic Director at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, said the Public Square venue will receive $1,624,537 in SVOG funds.

“The F.M. Kirby Center suffered a loss of over $3 million while shutdown for almost 16 months. Our loyal donors kept us going throughout that time to reschedule performances and refund ticketed customers,” Rodella said. “This award is designated to bring life back to our stage by booking talent and welcoming close to 100,000 guests, annually, back into our building. It allows us to do what we do best, and we are grateful to be one of thousands of beneficiaries of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.”

Will Beekman, General Manager for ASM Global at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, was also thrilled to hear of the SVOG funding — the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority received $6,550,459.

“There is no overstating how difficult the past 17 months have been,” Beekman said. “Our industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, so this funding will be helpful as we attempt to bring back employees and replenish lost funds.”

As part of the grant process, Beekman said the arena was required to submit a budget outlining how we would allocate funds for allowable expenses. He said some of the major categories include payroll, utilities, insurance and projects that will help ensure worker protection.

“We recognize everyone who assisted in making this federal grant a possibility, and we are grateful to be among thousands of venues and promoters receiving assistance,” Beekman continued. “We still have a long way to go, but this is obviously a big help as we try to get back on our feet.”

Background

The Small Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established through the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package passed in December 2020. In March 2021, Rep. Cartwright passed the American Rescue Plan to secure an additional $16 billion for shuttered venues in order to keep businesses afloat and employees on the payroll.

The American Rescue Plan also instituted a fix to ensure shuttered venues that received Paycheck Protection Program loans after Dec. 27th, 2020 can also receive a Small Venue Operators grant, as long as the grant is reduced by the amount of PPP funds provided. Applying for both grant programs was previously prohibited.

Local businesses awarded SVOG funding:

Luzerne County Convention Center Authority — $6,550,459

F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts — $1,624,537

Music Box Players — $94,673

Hoosier Daddy Entertainment — $51,216

Encore Wilkes-Barre — $225,422

Cinema & Drafthouse, Inc. — $124,995

Broadway Theatre League of Scranton, Inc. — $663,867

Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple — $679,385

Mountain Sky LLC — $17,352

LIGEND, Inc. — $298,758

Joey Casella Productions, Inc. — $175,425

Pocono Environment Education Center — $244,504

Angelia S. Rico

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