‘Endlessly grateful’ local venue owners welcome COVID-19 relief funding: ‘Finally..a glimmer of light’
Live music venue owners and theaters, shuttered since March due to mandated pandemic shutdowns, are counting on their slice of $15 billion in funding allocated in Congress’ latest COVID-19 relief bill, which was signed into law Sunday night by President Donald Trump.
Venues in Chicago are competing with their counterparts across the country — from Broadway to Hollywood — for the bill’s Save Our Stages Act funding, which is seen by many in the industry as the light at the end of the tunnel for independently owned clubs, concert halls and theaters. Without these funds, it’s been estimated that nearly 90% of the country’s independent live music venues would close in the near future, leaving the state of music, tours and the industry at large in jeopardy.
“This has been an unsustainable predicament and position for any business, with no income, not a single ticket, not a single drink sold for 10 months. So that’s why the relief package is so important and why we are so appreciative and grateful it passed,” said Joe Shanahan, founder of Metro Chicago on the city’s North Side.
The $15 billion is intended to provide grants to, according to the legislation, “eligible live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, or talent representatives who demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in revenues.”
9:42 a.m. Shedd penguins’ field trips bring a little joy to the world
Like other major cultural institutions in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium closed to the public more than once during the coronavirus pandemic.
And since people couldn’t get inside the Shedd, the Shedd reached out to the people — with some little, waddling ambassadors.
The Shedd’s first penguins arrived in 1991 with the opening of the Oceanarium. Since then, they’ve visited other exhibits in the aquarium. But the birds’ first offsite trip came in June, to the Field Museum, which was still closed to the public at the time.
Video of the penguins pacing past Sue the T. Rex was a hit online.
After that, Shedd trainers took the Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins to a few other famous Chicago sites. They needed the exercise, after all, and the sites were empty, or nearly.
6:02 a.m. House votes to increase COVID checks to $2K
The House voted overwhelmingly Monday to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000, meeting President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger payments and sending the bill to the GOP-controlled Senate, where the outcome is uncertain.
Democrats led passage, 275-134, their majority favoring additional assistance, but dozens of Republicans joined in approval. Congress had settled on smaller $600 payments in a compromise over the big year-end relief bill Trump reluctantly signed into law. Democrats favored higher payments, but Trump’s push put his GOP allies in a difficult spot.
The vote deeply divided Republicans who mostly resist more spending. But many House Republicans joined in support, preferring to link with Democrats rather than buck the outgoing president. Senators were set to return to session Tuesday, forced to consider the measure.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “Republicans have a choice: Vote for this legislation or vote to deny the American people” the assistance she said they need during the pandemic.
Analysis & Commentary
7:34 a.m. Did I purposely declutter my social circle?
Verena Graupmann, associate professor of psychological science at DePaul University, has been researching how social distancing in the United States and Germany affects an individual’s self-esteem and their sense of belonging and meaning.
“Part of this is natural and we are all getting used to the situation. We want to reach out to the people we know and love,” Graupmann said. “In the beginning, we were all reaching out to our people but many of us have been working from home and are on Zoom or phone meetings all day, so it’s overwhelming. I imagine there is a bit of fatigue with virtual calls.”
I can relate. I’ve lost count of my virtual calls over these last nine months. I cringe at the thought of scheduling a Zoom meeting.
“Social distancing is forcing us to be selective of who we spend our time with, and it is almost making us more mindful about your life and who you want in it,” Graupmann said. “It is almost like an antidote for social media. We are usually over-included in people’s lives and we know too many people that it’s hard to keep track of.”