State grant helps more than 50 Wisconsin movie theaters hit hard by coronavirus pandemic

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Help is on the way to some local movie theaters in Wisconsin.

With people staying home, the industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Milwaukee Film usually hosts showings at the Oriental Theater, but COVID-19 forced the nonprofit to go virtual this year.

“As much as we are a film-driven organization, to us it’s always a people business," said Karina Henderson, Milwaukee Film marketing director.

She added that the pandemic has meant cutbacks in both operations and employees.

They’re now getting $43,859 in aid from the state.

“We run one whole organization that has a lot of different business channels with the theater, our regular office structure, our festivals and our education programs – things like that," she continued.

The state grant money is helping 54 businesses in Wisconsin.

The owner of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Theater Group said this is a critical time.

They received $58,476 in assistance.

“It’s going to be able to help us keep the doors open at the Avalon and keep our property tax payment ready to go, and all of our utility payments as well as paying the people whose jobs we’re trying to protect," owner Lee Barczak said.

He added they’ve also been hurt by delayed film openings and the possibility of a major movie company pulling their future films altogether.

“This has been just a terrible period for any movie theater group, certainly a smaller group like ours," he said.

Marcus Theaters and Brookfield Cinema are other theater companies that received funding.

The state grants were funded by the federal CARES Act.

A total of $10 million dollars was given through this program.


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