New Jersey indie venues continue to experience losses despite reopening


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New Jersey Independent Venue Association (NJIVA) continues to champion relief funding for New Jersey’s venues and promoters after learning the first round of state funding, the Community Stage Relief Grant, went largely ungranted.
The industry, according to NJIVA’s recent survey, is still struggling.
Last month, NJIVA sent a survey to New Jersey venues and promoters to determine the financial state of the industry in 2021 after reopening to the public. The survey asked questions regarding ticket and non-ticket income, labor costs, and demographics, according to information provided by NJIVA on Feb. 24.
Every respondent – which included nonprofit and for-profit organizations – reported an average 67% decrease in overall ticket sales in 2021 vs. 2019 (pre-pandemic), despite the average ticket sale price remaining comparable, according to the statement. Around 90% of respondents also reported an average 72% decrease in overall non-ticket revenue and an increase in their no-show rates. This occurred alongside an increase in overall labor costs for venues this past year.
Eighty percent of the survey’s respondents received relief funds from the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) and 45% of them received the NJ Community Stage Grant to offset losses in 2020 when they were forced to close. But despite reopening in 2021, these venues’ losses continued, according to the statement.
“This data clearly shows our industry is still suffering the financial impacts of the pandemic,” Sara Scully, NJIVA associate and Hopewell Theater CEO, said in the statement.
NJIVA also received a report of which venues or promoters received the 2021 NJ Community Stage Grant for 2020. Data shows that recipients of this grant were diverse: 36% of grant recipients were women/minority-owned businesses and 36% were located in opportunity zones, as intended when the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) allocated an additional $10 million to the initial $7.5 million passed last year to aid for-profit venues, according to the statement.
However, that a very small percentage of the state’s venues and promoters got the grant. Thirty-nine venues or promoters received the grant, when there are at least 130 for-profit venues or promoters in the state. Of the total $17.5 million allocated for this grant program, for for-profit venues and promoters, only $5,246,021 million was granted, according to the statement.
NJIVA is currently looking to find out if the remaining nearly $12 million Community Stage Grant funding may be available with the NJEDA for a second round of much-needed funding.
More than 25 of New Jersey’s performing arts venues, presenters and promoters are associates of NJIVA: 1867 Sanctuary Arts and Culture Center in EwingAM Productions in KeyportAnchor Rock Club in Atlantic City, ArtPride New Jersey Foundation in BurlingtonBananas Comedy Club in Hasbrouck HeightsBergen Performing Arts Center in EnglewoodBird and Betty’s in Beach HavenBoardwalk Showroom in Atlantic CityThe Clubhouse of Toms River in Toms RiverCount Basie Center for the Arts in Red BankCrossroads in GarwoodDebonair Music Hall in TeaneckHopewell Theater in Hopewell, House of Independents in Asbury Park, Hunterdon Media Partnership in FlemingtonK Street Group in LebanonLedge EntertainmentMayo Performing Arts Center in MorristownMcCarter Theatre Center in PrincetonNewark Symphony Hall in Newark, The Newton Theatre in NewtonOutpost in the Burbs in MontclairPalladin Tour & Travel in Atlantic CityRoy’s Hall in BlairstownState Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, and Wellmont Theater in Montclair.

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