Save Our Stages Act Effect On STL Theaters

Image of a stage that says Save our stages impact on local theaters

Congress has recently passed the Save Our Stages Act (also called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant) as part of the Covid-19 Relief Bill putting funds in the hands of many independent venues that have been unable to operate since March, 2020.  The package includes $15 billion for theaters, independent venues, talent agencies, museums, and movie theaters.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) says over 2.1 million emails were sent by arts supporters to their elected officials expressing their support for the Save Our Stages Act. All 535 Congresspeople heard from their constituents through

Local Response to Save Our Stages Act

Ann Cady Scott, local philanthropist and board member of various arts organizations, spoke to Senator Roy Blunt about language used in the Relief Bill before it passed ensuring that the funds benefitted nonprofit theaters as it did for for-profit theaters. Scott said independent theaters were at a disadvantage because the original language of the bill made relief fund amounts dependent on revenue. Nonprofit theaters depend heavily on donations, not pure revenue.

“I thought it was important that Senator Blunt understand that revenue should be counted as donations as well,” said Scott. “He totally embraced it and it was included. Very few people understand the difference between the commercial theater and the nonprofit theater.”

Mike Isaacson, Artistic Director and Executive Producer at the Muny, said the relief bill highlights the importance of the arts to American culture.
“This is probably the most significant government/societal recognition of the place of the arts in America since the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA),” said Isaacson. “The aggregate societal and economic impact of the arts has been felt to a staggering degree since the shut-down.”
Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at the Repertory Theater St. Louis (The Rep), said that it’s difficult to overstate how critical the support delivered by the Save Our Stages Act is to the cultural sectors in every city in the nation.
“This relief funding, which serves commercial and nonprofit arts and culture venues, will help make it possible for The Rep to weather the storm of operating for a season at a deficit,” said Sharif. “For many nonprofits even operating with a skeletal staff and the lights off costs millions of dollars. From movie theatres and music venues to regional theatres and museums, the Save Our Stages funding is bringing vital resources to the cultural lifeblood of our communities.”