Music venues and theaters are still waiting on government’s small businesses aid

The North Park Theatre in Buffalo, New York, is a local landmark. Featuring a single screen, 600 seats and ornate domed ceilings, it is an increasingly rare gem in a sea of multiplex cinemas.

“This is the kind of place you want to see a movie — you’re going to forget about the outside world and escape for a few hours,” said Ray Barker, the theater’s program director. He has been with North Park since the 1990s, when he started as a concession worker.

North Park has been around for a century, surviving major economic shocks like the Great Depression and 2008 Great Recession. When the Covid pandemic struck, it went dark, and now it desperately needs a lifeline.

The theater is waiting on a $200,000 grant it applied for under the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, said Barker. North Park has reopened as pandemic restrictions lifted, but the aid is crucial to dig the landmark out of a mountain of debt accumulated over the last year.

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