Saving our stages


Good afternoon,

One of the best things to come out of the recently signed $900 billion coronavirus bill is the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

The program is offered for businesses and nonprofits  that have been affected by Covid-19. The initiative had the support of the state’s Congressional Delegation and was aided by the Save Our Stages  effort.


Smaller  venues in Delaware and elsewhere have tried to eke out some revenues, but Covid-19 capacity restrictions don’t help the bottom line.

The Milton Theatre in Sussex County has offered shows, but had to shut down over the holidays, due to attendance restrictions.

The Queen in downtown Wilmington has been repurposed as the transition headquarters for President-elect Joe Biden. That role will end   with the inauguration.

The Grand has added drive-up performances and a popular holiday light display. Still, the weekly and even daily shows. are only a fond memory.

The virus hit Delaware especially hard. Most lost millions of dollars  in funding from  2009 on due to 2020, due to corporate downsizing.  There were also some self-inflicted wounds from  a lack of innovation and overstaffing that pushed a few organizations to the brink long before the pandemic

 Venues had clawed back with innovative strategies and cost cutting.

The program under the U.S. Small Business Administration umbrella,  offers grants  of up to $10 million.

Brenden Cooke, who helped turn around and inject new life into Wilmington-based  OperaDelaware says “we fully intend to apply and are very hopeful. This is an extremely welcome and appreciated opportunity for needed “ventilator” funding until arts venues can breathe on their own again.”

Meanwhile, let’s get  vaccine into arms and return  to something approaching normal. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.