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Straz Center prepares for live performances, fights for pandemic relief

TAMPA, Fla. — Friday marks a turning point for the Straz Center, as the popular Tampa venue will host live, in-person performances on an outdoor stage.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare will be performed on the Riverwalk Stage on weekends through October 17.

“We know we’re a vital part of downtown Tampa and we want to be that again,” said Paul Bilyeu, with the Straz Center.

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled music and performing arts venues across the nation.

The Straz Center had to cut its staff of 500 down to fewer than 100 this year.

“First businesses to close, performing arts, because of the nature of the gathering of the number of people and we’re going to be the last to open,” said Bilyeu.

On Thursday, leaders at the Straz Center issued a call to action to patrons, urging them to contact lawmakers and demand support for the Save Our Stages Act.

If passed, the legislation would send $10 billion in emergency grants to independent venues, producers and promoters.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives amended the Heroes Act to include provisions from the Save Our Stages Act.

“Please join the Straz Center and performing arts organizations across the country by urging Congress to pass the updated HEROES Act, which included giving America’s independent venues and promoters a fighting chance to survive. Your advocacy is needed now to help #SaveOurStages, assist tens of millions of unemployed workers, help small businesses and uplift our communities,” the message states.

The Straz Center has outlined changes for patrons to follow when attending a fall performance, you can read about them and the upcoming show lineup here.

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