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Published in Small Business
The nonprofit Park Theatre in Holland has been closed for events since early March. The nonprofit Park Theatre in Holland has been closed for events since early March. COURTESY PHOTO

Park Theatre sits tight but is ‘here to stay’ in Holland

BY Sunday, August 02, 2020 07:00pm

HOLLAND — When officials with the Park Theatre first decided to close in early March because of concerns of spreading COVID-19, they weren’t anticipating a complete lack of concerts or events in the historic venue for months to come.

The venue has operated as a nonprofit, multi-use event space since 2001. Since the shutdown, the Park Theatre Foundation and leadership staff have taken several measures to cut costs, such as laying off staff and shutting off the office’s internet, said General Manager Brandon Blank. 

“We’re paying the bills as they come, and just hope we don’t have to call on any of our parents to bail us out,” Blank said. “At this point, fundraising and donations have completely stopped.”

Venue officials are hopeful the community support would be there if needed. Late last year, Park Theatre raised $42,000 in about three weeks to pay for exterior renovations that saved the venue. 

However, given the widespread challenges of COVID-19, he called fundraising a “last resort.”

“We think our best option right now is to just hold tight and make sure we’re doing anything we can to make the experience excellent when people do come back,” Blank said, adding that the venue is “here to stay” in Holland.

Meanwhile, thousands of venues across the U.S. are hoping for a lifeline from Congress. Last month, 66 independently owned venues in Michigan called on Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act and the RESTART Act that would bring direct funding to venues that have had virtually no revenue over the past four months. Ninety percent of the 2,000 members of the National Independent Venue Association have said they’ll close if the support doesn’t come within the next six months.

For now, future Park Theatre bookings are on hold since it could be into 2021 when indoor concerts — as we knew them — are allowed. The Park Theatre may gradually open with sit-down events with a capacity of around 50 people, even though they usually aim to sell about 300 tickets to events. A walk-up bar would likely be replaced with table service. 

Even though he is not booking future acts, Blank is confident that whenever the venue gets the greenlight to reopen, he will be able to quickly pull together a strong local showcase of acts.

“We’re just holding out,” Blank said. “We know as soon as those lights get turned on, people will be there and I truly feel as though we do a service in this community that nobody else can do, and that’s the reason we will stay right where we are.”

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