Tucson theaters impacted by pandemic receive grant

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s time to take the stage again for live venues thanks to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which is meant to aid venues that have struggled throughout the pandemic.

Susan Claasen, managing artistic director at Invisible Theatre, says, ″It’s been a rollercoaster, but it has been worth every single moment of it to be in the theater and experience the live energy.”

Claasen says Invisible Theatre was the first to open after the pandemic started. But they’ve only allowed 25% capacity the entire time. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant would help Invisible Theatre, as well as other live venues, pay for rent, utilities, payroll, and many other expenses.

“Well, it’ll be enormous because it’s a grant. It’s not to be paid back and the amount of money will help offset all of the costs we have in keeping the building open,” she says.

Because of the limited capacity due to social distancing, Invisible Theatre is only bringing in a fraction of what they were before the pandemic. They’re looking at a 75% reduction in revenue.

Meanwhile, at Gaslight Theatre owner, Tony Terry is unable to apply for the grant just yet because of money coming in from the attached diner and costume shop. He won’t be able to apply until late May.

″At that point I’m just hoping funds are available and we’ll be able to solidify our future,” Terry says.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Terry says they’ve done their best to keep performing.

″When we had to close and that’s been 388 days now that we’ve been closed, absolutely brutal. But my staff has pulled together, everybody’s pulled together and we’ve been able to limp through and make it happen.”

Terry says the grant would give them breathing room.

Both theaters are doing whatever they can to stay open, but it’s not ticket sales that matter the most to them.

Claasen says, “The arts are essential for the soul. They touch us in ways we don’t even realize, but we know when we walk out we feel better.”

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