In March of last year, the pandemic forced theaters and concerts venues across the state of Ohio to halt shows and close doors, to stop the spread of the virus, leaving them without an operating budget for the next year and with an uncertain future.
The American Rescue Plan that we passed this spring and that President Biden signed into law was a lifeline for venues and arts organizations across Ohio, and is allowing concert venues and theatres and arts organizations to reopen their doors and welcome Ohioans again.
We know these venues have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. It’s why in the Rescue Plan we expanded the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which we created with our Save Our Stages Act. Nearly 400 Ohio venues have received more than $300 million to get through this crisis.
This week I visited the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, and the Lima Convention Center.
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance alone received nearly $1.2 million in funding, to help cover all the expenses they’ve dealt with over the past year, without any in-person ticket sales. The Lima Convention Center and Symphony also received hundreds of thousands in Save Our Stages funding to cover their expenses.
Now, the Lima Symphony is reopening for its first in-person concert this Saturday. The Dayton ballet and the philharmonic are opening for their first full, in-person performances since last spring. Arts venues throughout the state are welcoming Ohioans to shows, concerts, and live theatre again, many for the first time in more than a year and a half.
We also know that the vaccines are critical to making sure arts venues are open and thriving again.
Because of the work we did with the Rescue Plan to ramp up vaccine distribution, most Ohioans are now vaccinated – it’s still not as high as it should be, but the numbers are going up every day. As of now, 65 percent of Ohio adults have had at least one dose.
That progress, combined with Save Our Stages funding, is allowing the show to go on once again.
Families are bringing their kids to a ballet and the theater for the first time. Parents are having a night out at a show again. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for after a long, hard year.
And saving these arts organizations not only supports the performers and the workers, it helps local businesses and the whole Ohio economy – people go to a local restaurant before the show, they grab a drink afterward, more people are out and about in downtown.
We can’t have thriving, vibrant cities without the arts. It’s why we fought to save our stages, and will continue to stand up for Ohio’s great arts organizations.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.