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Representatives of performing arts industry seek federal aid to stay afloat

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 4:19 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With limits on crowd sizes and shows put on hold, local performing arts venues and artists are among many continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, six months after closures began in an effort to contain the spread. Now, many in the performing arts industry are looking to Congress to stay afloat.

“It’s extremely difficult, and so something needs to happen," local musician Dustin Arbuckle said.

Many venues for live performances have been closed for months. Artists and venue owners ask for help from Congress with a campaign called Save our Stages,” the final push from those in desperate need.

“We’re going to get through this, but we’ve gotta have good places to play or we’re going to be permanently affected by this, and I don’t think that’s what any of us want to see,” Arbuckle said.

Performing arts being shut down has an economic and social impact.

“(Performing arts are) a pretty big part of our economy, and so there is some real significant decline because we’re shut down,” Wichita State University College of Fine Arts Dean Rodney Miller said. “And the irony to that is, in a time like this pandemic, the arts are needed now more than ever.”

Artists, venue owners and supporters hope Congress will see how important the arts are to communities.

“It would go a long way toward ensuring that most of the places that we play will be able to remain, so when we do get past this, those places will still be there,” Arbuckle said.

Crown Uptown Theatre Music Director Andrew Bowers said federal assistance could allow venues like the Crown Updtwon to hit the ground running when crowd limits lift.

“Artists, self-employed, they desperately need it because it’s their livelihood,” Miller said.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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