Local movie theaters urging Biden administration to allocate federal funding to entertainment venues

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WAUKEE, Iowa — Many local businesses are now in the process of recovering from the pandemic. However, for a few Iowa movie theaters that process is taking longer than expected.

Flix Brewhouse closed at the beginning of the pandemic and hasn’t been able to fully re-open since. The Chief Operating Officer at Flix Brewhouse, Matthew Baizer said it’s not that the demand for the theater isn’t there, but they are still trying to recover from the money lost last year. 

“What we did initially is we paid out as much as we could to our vendors, we paid PTO balances, some time off for vacation for all of our team members, thinking that this pandemic was going to be short-lived,” Baizer said. “And in the process, we ended up using all of our reserve funds. So now we’ve got these great assets and these wonderful theaters that people love to come to and we can’t reopen because we simply don’t have the funds.” 

At the end of last year, the Trump administration enacted the shuttered venues operators grant to support independent theatres and live entertainment venues. 

Those eligible could receive up to 45 percent of their revenue difference between 2019 and 2020 distributed by the U.S Small Business Administration. 

However, only one percent of those funds have been dispersed under the Biden administration.

Baizer says Flix along with a slew of other independent theaters have been depending on receiving this money. 

Palm Theatres in Waukee has seen a significant increase in business over the last month. However, Vice President of Fridley Theaters, Russell Vannorsdel, said they still are relying on this federal funding to support their rural locations. 

“If that doesn’t happen in a timely manner, we’re going to find ourselves even Fridley Theaters, let alone other operators, we’re gonna find ourselves in a bit of a tricky position,” Vannorsdel said. “I have faith that our administration, Congress and the SBA will get these funds distributed in the very near future.”

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