Improving Cultural Life: SBA Grant Helps Spotlight Theater Shine Again | Editorials
Theaters, performing arts centers, music clubs and museums have all faced significant financial challenges for over a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Spotlight Theater in Warsaw, an independent cinema owned by Scott and Tami Treutlein, had to close for months during the pandemic. With zero income, the Treutleins were under tremendous pressure to keep the theater and their other small town theater, Spotlight of Hornell, in Hornell, Steuben County, in business.
Many other sites have been affected in the same way. They relied on loyal patrons and alternative funding sources to keep them going.
The good news was the $ 16.2 billion made available through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. Overseen by the US Small Business Administration, the SVOG program was funded by the Economic Assistance for Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofit Organizations, and Sites Act, enacted by Congress in December, and the U.S. rescue plan adopted in March.
Eligible applicants “may claim grants equal to 45% of their gross earned income up to a maximum amount of $ 10 million for a single grant,” according to the SBA website. Of the $ 16.2 billion allocated to the program, “at least $ 2 billion is earmarked for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees,” the agency said.
The money will help local organizations make ends meet as we work to move beyond the pandemic.
The Warsaw Spotlight Theater was one of a number of venues in western New York State – albeit the only one in the four-county GLOW region – to receive a grant.
The Treutleins have received nearly $ 400,000 in grants for their theaters in Warsaw and Hornell. The money – $ 170,428 for the Warsaw site and $ 219,359 for Hornell – is used to cover operating expenses such as rent, utilities insurance, taxes and payroll for its employees .
Scott Treutlein said that while the theater was broadly stable, the funds would help pay for renovations and expansion ahead of the pandemic.
“Without this help, we probably would not have been able to fully cover these payments and ultimately would have had to consider tough choices like a permanent shutdown,” Scott Treutlein told the Daily News in September.
The theater, although closed for about seven months, was luckier than the others. Theaters have been closed the longest of any industry in the state, and many theaters across the country have not reopened. Closed theaters do not generate revenue, while bills, taxes and other costs continue to pile up without a break.
Thanks to the SBA grant and other support, the two Spotlight theaters have managed to avoid a permanent closure and are once again showing first-run films on their big screens.
“It has affected us deeply,” Scott Treutlein told the Daily News following a “Save Our Theaters” rally on August 19, 2020 in East Aurora, in which lawmakers and business owners on both sides of the the political aisle called for New York cinemas. to reopen.
The Spotlight Theater and other theaters reopened in October 2020. The Spotlight Theater resumed its weekend schedule with the animation “The Addams Family 2” and live action “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” this weekend and October 6. Next week, the new James Bond film “No Time to Die” joins the screening choices of the cinema.
As the economy recovers and we continue to work to reduce coronavirus infection rates, we should take advantage of organizations that improve cultural life in the GLOW region of four counties in Genesee, Livingston, Orléans counties. and Wyoming.
“Our returning customers are amazing,” said Scott Treutlein. “We hope they enjoy the irreplaceable experience of seeing movement in a theater, and that they feel completely safe doing so.”
The SVOG program has helped these venues through this difficult time, giving us the opportunity to reconnect with and support our local arts organizations.