Save our Stages Act: Local theatre expecting to receive COVID relief

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In December, lawmakers on Capitol Hill reached an agreement to pass the $900 billion stimulus bill. The bill includes the Save Our Stages Act to help provide $15 billion in economic relief to music venues, theaters and cultural institutions. 

The HATTheatre in Henrico’s Tuckahoe neighborhood has been serving the community for 28 years. The theatre is a non-profit production company offering professional shows to audiences while providing educational courses to all ages.

The Executive Director of the HATTheatre, Vickie Scallion said she’s expecting this round of COVID relief to help her business because, like other establishments across the commonwealth, the HATTheatre took a hit during the pandemic.

“Hopefully this new bill will be able to help,” Scallion said.

Scallion estimates the theatre will lose around $8,000 due to the pandemic, which has her concerned about how she’ll pay for upgrades needed around the theatre.

“One of the things that would be helpful, our overhead is pretty steep and so to be able to keep our heads above water with regards to our overhead, that would be a helpful thing for us to get improved,” Scallion said.

The HATTheatre, including Scallion, employs three people. She said since her business didn’t meet employment requirements, she wasn’t eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program that was offered during the first round of COVID-19 relief in March.

“So we looked at the Small Business Administration grant — that was a possibility,” she said. “We missed the first several rounds of being able to do that because they ran out of money.”

Scallion said what was offered to her next would hurt her business more in the long-term.

“We did apply for that but unfortunately they didn’t give that to us, they offered us a loan instead — that has to be paid back,” she said. “Which is problematic given the situation that we’re under, so we just kind of held on it, not wanting to touch it yet until we could figure something else out.”

The HATTheatre’s resident youth company performed the theatre’s last show in November with a socially-distanced performance titled, “Whispers in the Night.” The production was held behind the HATTheatre, around dusk, lit by candles.

“The kids have had a tough time through this — they’re very resilient,” she said. “It was good because the kids had the chance to do something normal.”

She said that was the last time they could put on a production based on coronavirus safety measures implemented by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Without being able to do the shows and without having to have our audiences in, it really stops everything dead,” she said. “You’re not allowed to do anything on the stage, especially with the state mandates.”

Scallion said she’s hoping to receive funds as early as the spring. But in the meanwhile, the HATTheatre offers a combination of in-person and virtual classes via Zoom. Visit their website for more information.

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