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Relief could be coming to Omaha music venues

Live performance venues are struggling
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 19:29:07-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Live entertainment; something those around the country and in Omaha have not been able to witness since March.

“We are one of the first industries to close, and we will be among the last to fully reopen,” said Joan Squires, President of Omaha Performing Arts.

Squires, who oversees both the Holland Center and the Orpheum Theatre, said they’ve lost $25 million in gross ticket sales and may not have full crowds until next fall.

“We’ve all been dark since the pandemic and we do need this assistance to get us through this,” said Squires.

She said both the Holland and the Orpheum, along with the rest of Omaha's music and arts venues need assistance from Congress.

“Omaha needs from the smallest to the largest, to be able to be successful, to do well and reopen. So it’s been great to be in partnership with our colleagues, we support each other and understand that each one of us plays an important role,” Squires said.

Help could be on the way. The "Save Our Stages" program might be included in the nearly $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Congressman Don Bacon supports it being included with other small business aid.

“I think it’s vital, our live stages, our theaters, our live venues need serious help. No fault of their own, they’ve had to go through COVID and I’m here to advocate for them,” says Bacon.

Maha music festival canceled its annual music and arts festival this past summer. In a statement, Maha representatives said their festival is a part of a larger ecosystem that needs help.

Unless they get the relief "the reality is that many independent venues could close in a short period of time. If that happens, there are big logistical and financial challenges for everyone in the industry, including annual festivals like Maha," said Lauren Martin, Executive Director of Maha.

Rep. Bacon remains optimistic.

“I feel good about keeping it in there, and I know if I had my way it’s definitely in there and it’s in there right now,” said Bacon.

The owner of the Slowdown, a live music venue in downtown Omaha, tells 3 News Now over the phone that they desperately need the help.

“It’s been rough, and it’s getting rougher,” Owner, Jason Kuhbel said.