Friday, June 25

Grant to help live music and event venues in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -An industry relying on people being able to gather is getting some financial assistance.

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 said that wasn’t an option.

“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 pick up, we can’t do takeout, we can’t do an online store,” Wright said. “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 $500,000 or 25% 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 said it will help keep the doors open.

“We got to Dec. 1, and I talked to my staff. I says ‘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,’” Burke said. “I hope everyone who went after it were able to get some money because it turns your life around.”

Burke usually sees more than 100,000 people come through his doors for weddings and meetings.

His lost revenue for 2020 now stands at more than $1 million.

Despite the difficulties this year, Burke is hopeful for 2021 and a COVID-19 vaccine that will allow people to gather once again.

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