By Scottsdale Pinetop
There’s an ominous feeling when standing on the corner of Third Street and Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix. Just a year ago, the area was a thriving and up-and-coming artist district. But today, it’s one step above empty.
On any other given year, the streets and shops would normally be filled with independent, local artists selling their works. Events like Phoenix’s “First Friday” that are essential to the area have almost disappeared and nobody knows when it will be safe to hold them again.
The same can be said for Arizona’s entertainment industry. Local performing arts groups and venues seek to entertain us, they connect us and are significant economic and cultural drivers. Many nonprofit arts organizations were already in a precarious situation before the pandemic hit. And now, the upheaval of 2020 has forced them to adapt in ways they never imagined.
However, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is not letting this issue go unnoticed.
Throughout the COVID outbreak, Sinema has been all too quiet keeping her opinions and comments behind closed doors. But earlier this week, she broke her silence at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing where she highlighted the growing financial burden on Arizona’s entertainment industry that is struggling to stay afloat.
Sinema is a co-sponsor of a bipartisan effort that seeks to provide relief to entertainment industries through the Save Our Stages and RESTART Act. The Save Our Stages Act provides $15 billion to support independent clubs, theaters, concert venues and movie theatres that qualify while the RESTART Act offers a new loan program to support small businesses that have taken a critical revenue hit this year.
Local entertainment, music venues and theaters have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic and are expected to be the last to fully reopen. This leaves them in an unsettling and uncertain financial situation as we head into 2021. Some locations have been forced to close their venues for good while others are attempting to take performances digital or outdoors to remain relevant.
Creating strong, creative communities that strive to work together can develop positive and lasting results. And while many artistic companies are dreaming up ideas to adjust to the new reality, it takes leaders like Senator Sinema, local government officials and driven supporters to do their part. As notably said in show business, “the show must go on.”