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Local entertainment venues, without pandemic relief funds, struggle to make ends meet

TAMPA, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all kinds of industries to essentially “reinvent the wheel.” That’s easier for some industries than for others, and one that’s really struggling is the local entertainment industry, which hasn’t gotten much governmental aid.

Small local venues rely on full-capacity, physical attendance in order to make ends meet.

“We were not able to come up with a formula which leads to financial stability, at 50-percent and seated services only,” said Stephen Moss, Primary Partner of Honey Pot.

Venue owners in Ybor City are now going on 6-months of being closed, and the overhead costs in that time just for upkeep are overwhelming.

“I think a half a million is not a wild number for most,” said Moss.

Businesses like Honey Pot are now facing tough decisions, like whether or not staying open is an option. That decision has a big trickle-down effect.

“I appreciate and understand the city and the county investing in these historic venues like Tampa Theater and Straz, but without support to venues like Crowbar and Tom, we’re inevitably cutting off the legs of the artists,” said Hues.

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These are the places that even some of the big names got their start.

“We’ve had artists including, but many like, Lady Gaga, who started her career by performing at venues such as ours,” said Moss.

Right now, this industry is feeling a bit overlooked. So far, some of them have received some pandemic relief, but only around $10,000-$20,000, which Stephen Moss says doesn’t even begin to cover their overhead.

In an effort to help, the Tampa City Council passed a resolution calling upon the state and federal governments to send aid their way.

“I don’t know that Honeypot can stay in its holding pattern for much longer,” said Moss.

The Tampa City Council passed the resolution Thursday, and now they’re sending it off to Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, as well as Governor Ron DeSantis.

Currently, bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate, and the House of Representatives to establish a grant program for small live venue operators.

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