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Save our Stages program seeks to help live venues survive pandemic

Tucson’s Fox and Rialto theatres have been closed for a year
Live venues across the country have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Live venues across the country have been hard hit by the pandemic.(Circle)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 8:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) and his wife, Gabby Giffords, took a tour of the Rialto Theater Gallery Project to bring attention to the plight of live venues which have been closed because of the pandemic.

The Rialto Theater closed in March of last year.

“These are valuable small businesses,” Kelly said. “This place and the Fox down the street are iconic.”

Kelly voted for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant as part of the Save our Stages program passed last year when the winter wave of the pandemic was reaching its peak.

The bill gives $16 billion in loans and grants to live venues that have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly says a restaurant can do some business even if it’s scaled back but a live music venue doesn’t have that chance.

“I’ve heard from folks that run businesses like the Rialto, that without the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and PPP before it, that many of them would be gone for good,” he said.

Kelly and Giffords have a long history at the Rialto, taking in many music shows over the years including a “whole range of folks, I’ve come here to see Snoop Dog.”

Giffords, who grew up in Tucson, “has been coming here since she was a kid.”

Rialto has finished its application for financial assistance but we don’t know for how much.

There are, according to the American for the Arts Action Fund, 2,237 arts-related businesses in Tucson and Pima County which employ 7,700 workers.

“I mean Tucson would be a much lesser place if places like the Rialto or the Fox were not able to resume in business,” Kelly said.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.