Wichita venue owners leading entertainment-industry effort in comeback from pandemic

This month marks two years since the virus forced many venues to close and cancel performances. Looking to what’s next, some small and independent venues are
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 6:41 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Live entertainment remains an industry working on a comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic. This month marks two years since the virus forced many venues to close and cancel performances.

Looking to what’s next, some small and independent venues are working to secure their futures.

For the past year, the owners of WAVE have been working with several other independent venues and promoters across the U.S. to develop “D Tour.”

The effort that launched Tuesday, March 1, is designed to create a collaborative network of independent venues and promoters to attract artists and keep their stages booked.

“We realized quickly in the pandemic how fragile the overall ecosystem was, especially for independents,” said WAVE co-owner and D Tour Co-founder Adam Hartke.

Adam Hartke and fellow WAVE co-owner and D Tour Co-founder Jessie Hartke have been on the forefront of how the pandemic has upended live entertainment.

“Throughout pandemic, hundreds of independent promoters and independent venues across the country shuttered and were not able to reopen as the rest of the country did,” Jessie Hartke said. “(This) is one of the inspirations for D Tour.

The owners of WAVE were among those leading the “Save our Stages” effort, creating a federal grant program to sustain small and independent venues. Out of that, comes D Tour, an effort to create a new business model for this sector of entertainment.

“Traditionally, independents have worked in a vacuum or silo. You know, we work in Wichita. Then there’s independents in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and Kansas City that are all working independently and not really communicating,” Adam Hartke said. “In a lot of cases, competing for the same shows.”

Adam and Jessie Hartke said D Tour creates a central point of contact for artists and their representatives rather tan calling dozens of locations individually. It’s also designed to allow multiple shows to be booked at a time.

“Collectively, we’ll put together tour offers that will be independent shows across all 50 states, potentially,” Adam Hartke said.

With the live-entertainment industry often dominated by national promoters, this also gives independent venues more of a voice.

“To then be able to participate in the talks that were normally reserved for those larger entities,” Jessie Hartke said.

“We need to work together to ensure that we thrive in the future,” Adam added.

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