Shuttered venues grants bring $50M in relief to Kansas City

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Posted at 5:18 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 10:31:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Relief has finally arrived for entertainment venues and production companies through the Kansas City region that were crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of concerts, theatrical performances and dance events were canceled during the past 18 months amid emergency health orders, which forbid large gatherings, among other restrictions, in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 and keep health care facilities from being overwhelmed.

Now, Shuttered Venue Operators Grants, which were included in the American Rescue Plan, have been announced, bringing more than $50 million in relief to the Kansas City region. Four organizations will receive more than $6 million in relief funds, which Democratic Reps. Sharice Davids from Kansas and Emanuel Cleaver II from Missouri announced Wednesday.

Mammoth Inc., a Lawrence-based event production company that specializes in concerts, will receive the largest grant — nearly $9.75 million — in the region.

The American Theatre Guild of Kansas City, which presents the annual Kansas City Broadway Series, will receive more than $9.65 million in assistance.

The two other two venues set to receive more than $6 million are Starlight Theatre ($6.54 million) and Union Station ($6.30 million).

A total of 16 entities are set to receive seven-figure relief grants:

  • Friends of the Zoo Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, $4.6 million;
  • The New Theatre Company, $4.4 million;
  • Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, $2.4 million;
  • Digital Sound Systems Inc., $2.4 million;
  • Liberty Memorial Association, $1.9 million;
  • Kansas City Symphony, $1.8 million;
  • Quixotic Entertainment LLC, $1.5 million;
  • New West Presentations Inc., $1.4 million;
  • Kansas City Ballet Association, $1.3 million;
  • Knuckleheads Inc., $1.3 million;
  • Borda Productions, LLC, $1.1 million;
  • UGA, LLC (Uptown Theater), $1.1 million.

Although the Museum at Prairiefire is receiving a considerably smaller amount — $109,455 to be exact — Executive Director Terri Thompson said the money provides much-needed relief after a temporary closure in 2020.

“It was really scary because all of our revenue had immediately stopped. A lot of the donations, donors, private and corporate had pulled back, but we met our mission," Thompson said.

Now, "we can keep the lights on through the end of the year," she said.

Explore our interactive map of Shuttered Venue Operators Grants being doled out in the Kansas City area.

The full list can be found on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

President Biden signed the relief package in March, but the SBA has been slow to roll out the program.

Several Kansas City-area congressional leaders, including Cleaver along with Sens. Roy Blunt and Roger Marshall, signed a letter in April, urging the SBA to make the Small Venue Operator Grants a priority.

Davids and more than 200 legislators sent another letter to the SBA in June "to expedite the release of funds" and explain delays in the program's rollout.

KSHB 41 News reporter Bryant Maddrick contributed to this report.