Cantwell Holds Roundtable With Washington Venue Representatives About Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, Critical Needs for Assistance

Pre-pandemic, 135 independent venues across Washington employed more than 3,000, generated over $785 million in economic activity

EDMONDS, WA – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell held a virtual roundtable with representatives from venues around the State of Washington to talk about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, the application, which opened today, and hear about the critical need for assistance for venues around the state.

“Whether it's live music, live theater, a venue of cultural significance in which you're bringing a live audience -- you have been the hardest hit in this economic downturn due to the COVID pandemic, so we want to help…We don't want to lose this aspect of Washington's economy. We want you to be there for the future.” Senator Cantwell said.

The application for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) grant program for eligible live venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was scheduled to open today, but due to technical difficulties the application has been temporarily suspended. SBA will work on reopening as soon as possible and will share information ahead of the reopening date to ensure applicants are prepared and access is equitable.

Cantwell fought for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program to be established in the December 2020 end-of-year COVID-19 emergency relief and continuing appropriations package and pushed for additional funding to be included in the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March.

Venue operators from around the state spoke at the event. A recording of the full event can be found HERE. The speakers, with the timestamps at which they speak in the video, are below:

  • U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell; 2:04-5:12, 7:19-7:46, 29:57-31:20
  • Karen Hanan, Executive Director, Arts Washington; 0:00 – 2:03
  • Steven Severin, Co-owner, Neumos (Seattle); 20:08-24:54
  • Manny Cawaling, President, Keep Music Live; Executive Director, Inspire Washington; 25:08-29:56, 31:21-31:38
  • LaNesha DeBardelaben, CEO and President, Northwest African American Museum (Seattle); 17:30-19:59
  • Philip Cowan, Executive Director, The Grand Cinema Tacoma; 5:13-7:19
  • Rand Thornsley, Owner, Liberty Theatre (Camas-Washougal); 7:57- 9:59
  • Heather Schermann, Executive Director, Gesa Power House Theatre (Walla Walla); 10:08-12:56
  • Hollie Huthman, Owner, The Shakedown (Bellingham); 31:48-34:10
  • Craig Jewell, Owner, The Wild Buffalo (Bellingham); 34:17-35:53
  • Charlie Robin, CEO, Capitol Theatre (Yakima); 13:06-17:19
  • Katy Sheehan, Owner, The Magic Lantern Theater (Spokane); 36:04-39:10
  • Joe Mclalwain, Executive Director, Edmonds Center for the Arts; 39:20-44:45

Since March 2020, live-event venues have been among the hardest-hit businesses in the country. Most have generated near-zero revenue but have had to continue paying fixed expenses, like rent, in order to stay in business.

The State of Washington has 135 independent venues that hold between 100 and 2000 people in capacity. Before the pandemic, these venues employed more than 3,000 workers and generated more than $785 million in annual economic activity. According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, there are at least 90 small and independent movie theaters across Washington that will also be eligible for SVOG grants. They represent 66% of all movie theaters in the state.

Video from the roundtable is available HERE.