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Austin's ZACH Theatre is on the path to rebuilding as it plans to rehire and reimburse staff using its $2.6 million Shuttered Venue Operators Grant after reducing salaries during the pandemic.

The theatre, which has been a South Lamar staple since 1932, said they will reimburse the salaries for the 21 full-time employees after cutting them by 10-25% over the course of the pandemic. According to a press release, each employee will get their wages paid back to them.

The company, which normally hosts plays and musicals year round but was battered hard by the pandemic, is also looking to hire 56% of the staff that was let go during COVID.

After a very tough year for the entertainment industry, the SVOG grant was allocated $16 billion from Congress as venues similar to ZACH lost their customers due to COVID protocols. According to the Small Business Administration, $12.5 billion has been requested and so far $8.7 billion has been awarded so far.

An SBA report says about 90 venues have received funding so far, including ZACH Theatre, and more than 3,000 applications have been denied. SBA closed applications for the grant on Friday.

Though SVOG applications are closed, SBA said it "may reopen the portal or make other adjustments to its plan to best meet the needs of small businesses." The agency also said it will open applications for supplemental grants later, for those who have already received an initial grant later this month.

With new funds and new employees, ZACH Theatre recently announced its 2021-2022 season lineup as they look to bounce back. The season starts on September 29 with a performance of "Into the Woods."


(Bob Daemmrich)

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