Denver music venues face uncertain future as other businesses begin to reopen

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DENVER (KDVR) — Independent music venues in Denver face an uncertain future amid the COVID-19 crisis. As other businesses such as retail begin to reopen, concert halls are left without a timeline for when they may begin operating at some capacity.

“Everything just changed overnight,” said Sandra Holman-Watts, owner of Live at Jack’s.

Holman-Watts made the difficult decision this week to permanently close her business, which has offered live music in downtown Denver for more than 20 years.

“Because of our location we’re very convention driven and we book a lot of private events in the venue highlighting local musicians,” said Holman-Watts.

She says she knew early on her business would suffer greatly and may not survive the shutdown.

“I did everything possible to keep the business open. I went from being a live music room to a takeout restaurant. Anything I could think of to keep people engaged and keep them coming downtown to that live music spot,” said Holman-Watts.

Holman-Watts says she’s lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She says she applied for emergency funding but did not receive anything that would have helped keep her business afloat.

Chris Thomas, manager at Herman’s Hideaway says they’re also at a standstill, but are planning on opening to some degree by the end of the summer.

“We’re taking it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. We don’t want to think ourselves out of a job or be pessimistic about the future,” said Thomas.

He says they’re currently booking shows for August and into the fall, although it’s unclear what concerts will look like by then.

“We are looking at some options as far as streaming. People have been doing that and we have been streaming some events at Herman’s. As far as profit, there are ways to get revenue it’s just not what we’re used to,” said Thomas.

Holman-Watts says her primary concern is for local musicians without work.

“It’s been devastating for them. They’ve lost their platform and it just breaks my heart,” said Holman-Watts.

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