By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 24, 2020 at 7:16 PM

Earlier this month, the Pabst Theater Group along with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) reached out to legislators and the public for support for the Save Our Stages Act and RESTART Act. Unfortunately more help is needed – and you can help provide it.

The Pabst Theater Group, along with dozens of other NIVA-affiliated Wisconsin stages that have closed since the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, called on Gov. Tony Evers today to "allocate dedicated money from the remaining funds provided from the CARES Act to support independent live entertainment venues in the state." In particular, stages are asking for Evers to consider live entertainment grants for venues, stages and other directly live entertainment-related businesses – similar to the relief grants enacted in Montana and other markets.

"We’re staring down a harsh inevitability for venues like ours throughout the state if additional relief doesn’t come soon," said Gary Witt, President & CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, in a release.

"It’s impossible for live entertainment venues to sustain the forced closure and prolonged loss of revenue we’re facing. When our businesses close, our arts and culture scene will suffer, the $250 million dollar contribution our group alone makes to Milwaukee's economy will disappear, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate will surge and a segment of the economy will collapse."

How to help

Once again, purchasing clothing and gear from venues' gift shops can provide some support, but in order to truly sustain these cultural, communal and in many cases historic hubs throughout their extended shutdown during this ongoing outbreak is government support and relief funds. And the best way to push those forward is to make your voice heard.

To help gather and focus constituent voices, NIVA Wisconsin created a petition to Gov. Evers to encourage and push him and legislators to support independent stages and venues during these dire times. It takes just a few seconds to fill out, and it could help your favorite stage stay alive and reach the other side of this once-in-a-generation crisis. 

Click here to read and add your name to the petition – which, as of current writing, has already reached 2,281 signees with an initial goal of 2,500. 

Milwaukee would be a worse place without our independent stages and venues – so let's do what we can to make sure they'll be able to keep standing, keep their lights on, and keep providing memories and experiences we'll never forget.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.