LIMA, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined local arts leaders at the Allen County Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center to show how Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG) have helped local cultural and entertainment small businesses survive the pandemic and reopen. With the help of SVOG funding, the symphony will begin in-person performances again this Saturday.
Sen. Brown was a cosponsor of the Save Our Stages legislation that established the SVOG grants, and helped pass the American Rescue Plan that expanded the program. The program awarded nearly 400 Ohio venues more than $300 million in initial and supplemental rounds of funding – ranking the state ninth for most amount of money received.
“The American Rescue Plan we passed this spring was a lifeline for venues and arts organizations like the Allen County Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center. We know these venues have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic. These are small businesses – economic anchors and also important cultural and entertainment hubs -- that support local economies. I will never stop fighting for them,” said Brown.
The Allen County Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center received more than $400,000 in SVOG funds and the Lima Symphony Orchestra Association received nearly $130,000 in SVOG funds. This has helped cover expenses they’ve dealt with over the past year, without any in-person ticket sales.
Brown was joined at the event by local arts leaders who spoke about what the investment has meant for the community, including Abe Ambroza, CEO of Allen County Veteran’s Memorial Civic and Convention Center; Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, Executive Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra; and Gina Wiley, Owner of The Dancer by Gina.
“The pandemic has been devastating to everyone in the entertainment industry,” said Abe Ambroza, the CEO of the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center. “Thanks to the Shuttered Venue Grant, venues like the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center have a chance now to be the venue our community expects us to be. We can also now return to a full staff to execute and plan all events as our guests expect of us.”
“On behalf of everyone from the Lima Symphony Orchestra, I want to thank Senator Brown for his advocacy for the arts and his support of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant,” said Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, Executive Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra. “This program was initially referred to as the Save our Stages bill, and it did just that - not only saving our stages and performing arts organizations from the economic devastation of the pandemic, but also preserving the vibrancy of communities like Lima.”
“We are really happy the Civic Center has funding to stay open,” said Gina Wiley, Owner of The Dancer by Gina. “For us it’s huge because we’ve been doing this work for 29 years and the kids in my studio work all year long for that one chance on stage.”