Denver arts and entertainment industry lost $1.4 billion in sales revenue because of COVID-19

The fall calendar looks slim as venues close and performances canceled
Posted at 6:36 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 21:38:29-04

DENVER — The arts and entertainment industry took a big hit this week as multiple venues and organizations announced closures until January 2021.

The impact is economic as well as cultural, as traditional events like seeing the Nutcracker around the holidays won’t happen this year.

The Colorado Ballet furloughed 50 dancers until 2021 and cut pay to nearly 30 staff because of the pandemic.

“What was a nice light for us was the PPP loan we received back in April that kept us current on salaries, but we ran out of that money August 31st,” Artistic Director of the Colorado Ballet, Gill Boggs, told Denver7 Friday.

The ballet owns a building with a mortgage and their largest expense is payroll.

Their performance of Giselle was postponed and the Nutcracker canceled, leaving them with a $3.5 to $4 million loss.

They have a relief fund with a goal of $3 million.

“We are looking at the organization right now, as a fundraising organization, so that we can get to the other side of this pandemic,” Boggs said.

Denver Arts and Venues announced it’s closing in October, furloughing 70 employees until January. That includes Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

After a sold-out series at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Colorado Symphony also announced its canceling November and December concerts due to COVID-19.

Creative industries in Denver like arts and entertainment have lost 28,840 jobs and $1.4 billion in sales between April 1 and July 31.

“Any sort of savings has been depleted,” Travis Ragan, General Manager of The Roxy Theatre, said. “I haven’t had a salary since March, my business partner hasn’t had a salary since March, all of our employees unfortunately, their unemployment ran out.”

The music industry lost 8,327 jobs in Colorado.

The Roxy stopped rescheduling shows and is looking towards the day they can have a full venue again.

“If he (the governor) says, 'you can have shows of 50 or 75 people' that doesn't do anything for a building of our size ,it costs us more to break even for a night,” Ragan said.

So he wrote a letter to state leaders asking for a plan.

Venues are shut down but are still responsible for taxes and maintaining a liquor license.

“We are having to pay for something we can’t use. The response we have gotten is, 'you can pay for it and keep your liquor license or you can let it lapse and hope to be able to get another liquor license when it is time to renew,'” Ragan said.

“What we could really use is mortgage protection, a proration on any of our licensing costs and stop property taxes.” he said.

Ragan says the recovery may take years and the industry will need help to get there.