April 22, 2024

$100K in federal funds take stage at Kansas City theater forced to relocate because of COVID

Challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact the arts, said Evie Craig, whose organization was forced to relocate because of an unexpected revenue drop caused by the global health crisis.

A recently announced $100,000 in American Rescue Plan grant funding from the Entertainment Industry Grant Program administered by the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development is expected to help Kansas City-based The Arts Asylum rebound, Craig said.

Performers at The Arts Asylum are pictured during a production of “Bat Boy: The Musical”; photo courtesy of The Arts Asylum

“The Arts Asylum is extremely gratified to have received this award from the State of Missouri,” the organization’s executive director said. “The process was very competitive and the Department of Economic Development staff were thoroughly professional throughout.”

Click here to learn more about The Arts Asylum.

The first round of awards under this category, which benefits performing arts agencies in the state that had significant losses during the pandemic, were awarded in summer 2023 and funds were distributed in the fall. The Entertainment Industry Grant Program is intended to further the statewide recovery of the entertainment industry from the negative economic impact of COVID-19. This grant program will help existing entertainment venues that plan to expand, upgrade, or improve operations. 

“We will use these much-needed funds for operations and necessary renovations to our new location in the East Brookside/South Troost corridor,” Craig said. “Like so many of our partner performing arts agencies, The Arts Asylum experienced unanticipated revenue losses in the early days of the pandemic that extended well into the 2021 recovery.”

U.S. Reps. Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, a member of the House Small Business Committee, supported and voted for the American Rescue Plan. All Republican members of both the Missouri and Kansas Congressional delegations in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate voted against the $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Board and management at The Arts Asylum made the decision to leave its original location and to relocate to a smaller space with minimal overhead/occupancy costs in order to maintain and sustain our financial and operational stability, she noted.

“COVID-19 relief funding, including the recent award from the State of Missouri, gave us the support we needed to be nimble enough to make this change and to continue to be a ‘safe place to create,’” Craig said.

The Arts Asylum is the only live theater in the Brookside/South Troost area and offers off-street parking, a ground-level entrance, brand-new bathrooms, and a fully accessible theater, she noted.

The mission of the Arts Asylum is to create a safe space for Kansas City artists, performers, educators, and creative companies to develop new work. The Arts Asylum focuses on new, locally grown programming through its producing division to support its mission.

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