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Larson Announces $10.4 million in COVID Relief for 1st District Live Venues

July 20, 2021
Press Release
Larson Helped Secure Grants for Live Entertainment Venues

Hartford, CT Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) announced today that more than $10.4 million has been awarded to 1st District live entertainment venues so far from the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. Larson was an early cosponsor of the Save our Stages Act and helped secure the grant funding as part of last year’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, with additional funding passed in the American Rescue Plan.   

“Live venues were some of the first businesses to close their doors due to the COVID pandemic and are now some of the last able to re-open,” said Larson. “This grant funding is essential to venues across the 1st District to promote the arts and bring back jobs that were lost. I was proud to vote for funding for this program last year and again as part of the American Rescue Plan.”  

The following venues were awarded grants:  

  • The Bushnell, $5,750,724 
  • Hartford Stage, $2,369,6689 
  • TheaterWorks, Inc., $472,651 
  • Spotlight Theatres Front Street LLC, $467,959 
  • Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Inc., $379,899 
  • Parkade Cinemas & Entertainment Inc., $227,415 
  • Gilson Café & Cinema LLC, $219,441 
  • Sea Tea Improv, LLC, $152,871 
  • The Little Theatre of Manchester, Inc, $123,401 
  • Real Art Ways, Inc., $70,798 
  • Cinestudio, Inc., $61,951 
  • CAST INC, $59,844 
  • Hartstone Productions LLC, $59,728 

"The SVOG program goes a long way to heal the deepest wounds inflicted during what will ultimately be an 18-month closure. While our private donors and patrons have generously supported us through the closure, it would have been impossible to achieve the level of financial stability we need to face a still uncertain future without the help of government.  This program is an excellent example of our federal government stepping up to say that the arts and arts organizations matter to our communities and to our citizens. The Covid-19 pandemic, a once in a century event, is unprecedented in The Bushnell’s 92 years of operations. We are grateful to our federal legislators who believe in the value of Connecticut’s arts organizations and fought so hard to ensure that The Bushnell will remain a cultural cornerstone for our community for the next 100 years," said David Fay, President & CEO of the Bushnell. 

“We are so grateful to Congressman Larson and the whole CT delegation who fervently advocated for these SVOG funds to support performing arts venues in our communities. This grant is critical to our return to live performance and the hiring of artists, craftspeople, and administrators that make performances possible. We will once again bring community members together to share and reflect on our individual and shared experiences while simultaneously helping to drive the economic resurgence of life to our downtowns and neighborhoods across Connecticut. We cannot wait to welcome audiences back to our theater,” said Melia Bensussen, Artistic Director at Hartford Stage. 

“Our Shuttered Venue Operators Grant award is critical in our planned fall reopening of indoor concerts, education programs and community events.  Without this support the Hartford Symphony would be a very different place and our fall opening would be in jeopardy,” said Steve Collins, Executive Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. 

“We are pleased and appreciative of our SVOG award of $472,650. It will go a long way to help stabilize TheaterWorks Hartford's financial footing. Unlike most other venues – and thanks to our loyal patrons and funders, we’ve kept most of our team employed this past year creating virtual content. This funding will go a long way to ease the pressure on our small staff. We’re excited to produce live theater again this summer on the riverfront and to bring folks back into our beautifully renovated space in October – we couldn’t do that without this grant and public support,” said Rob Ruggiero, Producing Artistic Director at TheaterWorks Hartford. 

“Real Art Ways was closed from March through August, and had no earned revenue. Since September we’ve been open, but earned income is still way down from the previous year. This federal support ensures  that Real Art Ways can keep staff on payroll, and keep vendors paid,” said Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director of Real Art Ways. 

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is available to live venue operators or promoters that were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has authorized $16 billion to support the program.