Evers announces $15 million grant for live music, entertainment venues

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Coronavirus has crushed the live music industry.

Concert venues have sat empty for nearly nine months, and the world's largest music festival, Summerfest, was canceled for the first time ever. 

Now, the state is providing money to try to help.

Governor Tony Evers is rolling out $15 million in grants to 96 live venues. 

Those in the industry say the last nine months have put a damper on their hearts and pocketbooks. 

The state's money will help them, but they say they're hoping the federal government passes a stimulus package.

Actor and TV host John McGivern says he can't find the right words to describe what the pandemic has done to the live music and entertainment industry. 

"It's been a very difficult, hard financial year," he said. 

To keep his head above water, he relies on his rental properties to make ends meet.

"I had that to fall back on."

However, he says there's a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Gov. Evers just announced a $15 million in grants live music and entertainment venues. 

"We are grateful, our state has shown a belief in our industry and supporting our industry and what it is that we provide for our cities," said Gary Witt, CEO of the Pabst Theater. 

"We've been closed for nine months, our industry was the first to close and likely the very last to open," he said. "We're down 80-90 percent, 88-percent in business because we basically can do no shows."

Witt says this money will help pay the bills and their employees.

“Our state has been incredibly helpful to try and keep it going during this incredible difficult time and keep businesses open.”

Over at the Marcus Center, it's the same story.

"Seventy-five percent of our revenue has been loss, due to the pandemic, it's been a challenging year.

We did have to lay off staff and do significant pay cuts for remaining staff, reduce expenses where we can keep the operation going," Kendra Ingram said. She is the president of The Marcus Performing Arts Center. 4

While both are grateful for the help, Witt says this is only a temporary fix. 

"The money that we are getting from the state, as the state knew, I believe as the governor and secretary mentioned, is basically something to get us by," said Witt. 

Witt says he received an email Friday, Dec. 4. He says venues will receive the money in about two weeks.

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