DENVER — Local music and performing arts venues are starting to reopen — slowly. With warm weather returning and some pandemic restrictions lifting, the sun is starting to shine on an industry hit hard during the past year.
Revenues down and jobs lost
Performances by the bands Three Dog Night & Firefall wrapped the 2019 concert season at Levitt Pavilion Denver. Heading into the off-season, the outlook industry-wide for the new year was impressive.
“Year over year there's been a tremendous amount of growth in live music. 2020 was supposed to be this major breakthrough year. Almost everybody was on tour, venues were filled up, our projections were looking really, really strong. And, then COVID hit and it all fell apart,” said Chris Zacher, Executive Director for the Levitt Pavilion Denver.
More than 70 concerts were canceled or rescheduled at his venue last year.
“It's been really difficult. It's been trying to navigate... a tough situation for everyone. Sponsors aren’t bringing in revenue, donations are down, grants are being redirected towards the health crisis. It was a struggle all year,” he explained.
Levitt Pavilion Denver is a 10-acre nonprofit cultural venue located in Ruby Hill Park. Its goal is pretty simple: to produce shows that introduce our community to the artists that live and work here into the national touring acts that are emerging.
Funded through sponsors, grants, donors and concessions, the venue usually offers 50 free community concerts each year along with an admission-based series of typically about 20 concerts. All artists are paid a fair wage.
The venue just announced 10 free concerts for 2021. But in 2020, none of this happened.
“Our revenues were down about 73 percent from 2019 and I'm one of the lucky ones. A lot of my friends were down 90 percent or 100 percent, nationally,” said Zacher.