Fox Cities P.A.C. receives much-needed Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is expressing gratitude for long-awaited financial relief in the form of a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant in the amount of $1,300,886.95. Distributed by the Small Business Administration, this grant was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act, which included the Save Our Stages Act. As one of the first industries to close in March 2020, live performing arts will also be among the last to reopen fully this fall, creating a devastating financial impact for venues across the country, including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.  This grant funding is one necessary piece in a larger financial recovery plan.

With the loss of performances, events and patron services, and therefore all associated earned revenue, the Center took immediate action to reduce expenses by $2.5 million including furloughing 84% of staff, renegotiating contracts, transitioning to remote work and more. Even with reduced expenses, delivering the Center’s mission virtually has resulted in $5.89 million in expenses over the course of the building’s closure. Private contributions from generous businesses and individuals, and relief funding, including the recent SVOG funding, have helped to narrow the gap, but due to the sustained financial impact of the pandemic, the Center is actively raising an additional $500,000 toward the Act 2 Fund.

“We are grateful to all legislators who supported this much-needed relief, especially Tammy Baldwin and Mike Gallagher for their additional support during this process,” said Maria Van Laanen, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. “As one of the first industries to feel the economic impact of the pandemic, and an industry that will have spent nearly 18 months in an extended intermission, this financial support is crucial to preparing to welcome audiences back in person. It will assist us in entering the Center’s second act on solid financial footing and to continue providing exceptional, engaging and educational live performing arts experiences to our community.”


Funding from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant supports the Act 2 Fund, which provides the Center COVID-19 relief to offset the negative financial impact of the pandemic, and necessary capital improvements to address health and safety upgrades for the building’s reopening.

The Center also worked diligently to secure additional financial resources through federal, state and local programs including two PPP loans (one of which has been forgiven), two grants from the State of Wisconsin, grant funding from Arts Midwest, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau and several grants from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.  In addition, individuals and businesses have supported the Act 2 Fund since it was announced in 2020. While each grant and donation has helped the Center cover necessary expenses related to virtual delivery of the mission, the community’s help is still needed to close the $500,000 gap.

More information about the Center's financial story can be found here.


Throughout the extended intermission, the Center remained committed to delivering its mission safely and virtually. The Community First Community Engagement Series held virtual and, more recently, in-person activities that celebrated diverse music and art, shared inspirational stories in the weekly The Show Must Go On Show and reached patrons of all ages and backgrounds from Northeast Wisconsin and beyond. The all-virtual Amcor Education Series continued to educate students through the arts and connect educators with arts-integrated teaching tools. Educators from 22 schools participated in monthly Teachers’ Lounge events and the Education Series had more than 16,000 students engage in an arts experience. The Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program welcomed a record number of 24 high schools, impacting more than 1,400 students from nine counties throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

“As an organization that’s mission is to bring people together to enjoy the inspiration of a shared live experience, the pandemic was especially devastating. We heard from so many community members and artists how much they look forward to the arts to provide a chance for healing, reconnection and rebuilding which motivated us to find new ways to present engagement opportunities virtually until the time we could safely gather once again in person,” Van Laanen said. “The time to gather in person is almost here and we can’t wait to welcome patrons back this fall. With the support of our community and the Act 2 Fund, we’ll be back stronger than ever.”

More information about the Center’s virtual mission is available at


As the Center emerges from a forced intermission spanning nearly 18 months, the Act 2 Fund has been created as a way to provide needed financial support to help offset the negative financial impact of the pandemic.

Donations made to the Act 2 Fund ensure the future financial health of the organization by covering the costs incurred as the Center continued to deliver its mission, preparing the building to welcome audiences back in person for its second act, and beginning to replenish the funds used in the emergency shutdown.

Donors to this fund make a direct impact on the future of the organization and support the power of live performing arts experiences and the programs and performances that have made a difference in the community.

Learn more about the impact a donation can make and how to give at 

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