By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — There will be no large concerts or events this New Year’s Eve, but help was on the way for Chicago’s independent performance venues.

With no events since March, many of those venues have closed or are barely hanging on.

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As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported Thursday evening, the owners of the venues the latter category still have to put money into the waiting game – as just keeping venues maintained is costing thousands of dollars a month. But Molina is told new grant money will help them stick around until they can open again.

The Patio Theater has been in operation since 1927 at 6008 W. Irving Park Rd. in the Portage Park neighborhood. Its centennial isn’t too many years off.

“(The) Patio Theater is a treasure,” said Chris Bauman.

It is a treasure that Bauman restored as a music venue, because he couldn’t stand to see it go. But holding onto history in 2020…

“This has been a very long 10 months now. Closed down,” Bauman said. “We’ve still had to pay mortgage, utilities, insurance. We’ve just been doing the best we can to stay afloat and be able to open our doors again.”

Now, a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Patio Theater is one of 100 venues awarded $10,000 through the city’s Performance Venue Relief Program. And there’s even more help on the horizon. Bauman was one of thousands of venue owners across the country pushing for The Save our Stages Act, just passed as part of the latest COVID-19 relief legislation signed into law, setting $15 billion dollars aside to help venues like the Patio Theater.

“It’s going to allow us to get caught up,” Bauman said.

But after 10 months without a penny, no way to open for many more, a question lingers. Will it be enough?

“To be determined, I think,” Bauman said. “But I will tell you it’s enough, for now, to get us open again.”

The Small Business Administration will decide how to divvy up the Save our Stages relief money, with operators applying for those grants, like they have for SBA loans. The city grants were funded through an arts foundation and the CARES act.


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Tara Molina