Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – First News at Nine’s Maria Blough talked to local grant recipients getting a piece of that entertainment 15-million-dollar aid package.
Live music and entertainment venues across Wisconsin were some of the first businesses to close as the pandemic began to be felt in March. Unlike other industries that could more easily adapt, Kathy Wright with Country Jam USA says that wasn’t an option.
Wright said, “For venues like ourselves where we’re really only open three days a year, when you lose those three days, we can’t do curbside pickup, we can’t do takeout, we can’t do an online store. We rely on the ability for people to gather and to be together and we only do that three times a year.”
Seven businesses in Eau Claire, including Country Jam USA, received some grant money from the Evers Administration. Eligible businesses could get up to 500- thousand dollars or 25 percent of their 2019 ticket or event sales, whichever total was smaller.
For businesses like the Florian Gardens Conference Center, this aid can’t make up for lost revenue. But owner Dave Burke says it will help keep the doors open.
Burke said, “We got to Dec 1 and I talked to my staff. I say you know guys it doesn’t look like we got the grant I’m not sure where we’re going to go from here, I said because we’re pretty much getting to the bottom of the barrel. You know that money was so important to get. I hope everyone who went after it were able to get some money because it turns your life around.”
Burke usually sees more than 100-thousand people come through his doors for weddings and meetings. His lost revenue for 2020 now stands at more than one million dollars.
Despite the difficulties this year, Burke says he’s hopeful for 2021 and a COVID-19 vaccine that will allow people to gather once again.
In Eau Claire, Maria Blough, First News at Nine.