When the Bankhead shuttered its doors in March 2020, the organization was forced to reduce staff by 80%, and the remaining staff took a 40% pay cut. The American Rescue Plan of 2021 signed into law by President Biden in March included $1.25 billion in COVID relief for the SVOG, and the award amount is roughly equal to 45% of a venue's earned revenue in the year prior to the COVID pandemic closures.
The SVOG was supported heavily by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), of which Livermore Arts is a member. The organization applied for the grant through the Small Business Administration and was awarded $857,060, with $327,500 of the total coming from the forgivable Paycheck Protection (PPP) loan program.
The grant award was approved in August and arrived in September. Then a second supplemental round of funding became available, Livermore Arts applied once again, and was awarded an additional $428,520 for a total of $1,285,580.
These grants helped Livermore Arts to reschedule more than 60 performances and artists that were canceled due to the pandemic; book artists for the 2022-23 season; and cover earned revenue lost from March 2020 to present day.
Denise Watkins, a Pleasanton resident who recently served as the chair for the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, is the new chair of Livermore Arts board of directors.
"I'm proud to be leading the organization with Executive Director Chris Carter at such a pivotal time," Watkins said. "The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging of our lifetimes and the return of live performances on stable ground has helped lift us all."
The SVOG and its supplemental grant award also allow for other minor infrastructure changes such as upgrading computers and software, fully financing Bankhead Theater's new sound system, and allowing the crucial upgrade to the Bankhead's filtration system to use Merv-13 filters, as well as other essential PPE for employees and patrons as Livermore Arts returns to live performances.
On average, Livermore Arts raises about $1.8 million in contributions annually and exceeded that in the first quarter for this year. Additionally, there are a record 950 members in its patron base.
Charitable donors to Livermore arts have been remarkably generous throughout the entirety of the shutdown and the staff at Livermore Arts are unendingly grateful for them, management said. A number of sizable donations have come in during the last 18 months, including an estate gift valued at $670,000, and this year's annual fundraising gala, Brilliance at the Bankhead, raised $475,000.
The grant awards also will be used to support staff and operations, along with performances, programming at both the Bankhead Theater and the Bothwell Arts Center, as well as the organization's broad educational and cultural arts outreach activities.
To learn more about Livermore Arts, the Bankhead Theater and Bothwell Arts Center, visit www.livermorearts.org.
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