Chicago to launch relief program giving $10K for up to 120 performance venues

Cate Cauguiran Image
Monday, October 5, 2020
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"Do that math. How long can people survive with absolutely no revenue and only expenses?"

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's iconic and beloved performing arts spaces have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"All the performing arts organizations have been completely devastated by this. We have over six months of dead space," said Stephen Lester a Chicago Symphony Orchestra musician.

Event venues like Chicago's Chop Shop, stages, both large and small, from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to The Hideout are all collecting dust and expenses.

"There's so many other bills that are going on that don't go away," said Nick Moretti, owner and founder of Chop Shop Chicago.

Katie and Tim Tuten, co-founders of the Chicago Independent Venue League and co-owners of the The Hideout are now working on a national level - crusading for federal funding for the arts.

"Do that math," said Katie Tuten. "How long can people survive with absolutely no revenue and only expenses?"

Earlier this week, the city announced a new relief program to target Chicago theater, dance and music venues.

Eligible performing arts venue owners can apply starting Monday.

The program will provide recipients $10,000 for up to 120 venues.

"We are extremely thankful and grateful for the city's support and that they understand we are a cultural institution and that we're economic drivers and if we go away there too go a lot of businesses in the neighborhood," Katie Tuten said.

"We are the place that generates the actual comedy, theater, the actors the musicians that go across the country. But we got to nurture that," Tim Tuten said.

"Without that, the musicians and the people of Chicago, have nothing," Lester said.

"There's a lot of big red flags and warning signs of ripple effects, not just the venues closing, but the whole industry changing," Moretti said.