Denver Arts & Venues Executive Director Ginger White announced Wednesday that the agency will close its venues and begin partial and full furloughs of all of its 70 employees beginning September 27 through January 2, 2021, according to a letter city councilperson Chris Hinds posted to Twitter.
“The current pandemic situation has impacted our operation significantly, and as a result, we find that we must make some difficult operational and personnel decisions,” White wrote in the letter.
White added that A&V attempted to weather the storm by cutting expenses by 46 percent and moving capital improvement dollars into the operating budget. But economics necessitated the closures and furloughs, says Brian Kitts, A&V director of marketing and communications. “We’re not eligible for a general fund transfer from the city,” he said. “We’re responsible for our own revenue.”
In August, A&V released the results of a study it commissioned to examine the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus on the Denver metropolitan region’s creative economy. Written by Colorado State University professor Michael Seman, the study found the industry would lose an estimated 29,840 jobs and $1.4 billion in sales between April and July due to COVID-19. That represents 31 percent of the total creative economy workforce and nine percent of annual sales revenue.
The sector estimated to be the hardest hit was music, dance, theater, and visual arts, which was projected to incur more than half of all creative economy job losses and 33 percent of lost sales revenue. A&V operates Red Rocks, the Denver Coliseum, the Colorado Convention Center, and the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and manages an array of arts programs.
Red Rocks will host its September slate—including its Film on the Rocks Drive-In series and Colorado Symphony performances—before shuttering for the year. The Coliseum (currently serving as a temporary homeless shelter) and Convention Center (an overflow COVID-19 field hospital) will remain open for COVID-19-related purposes.
Kitts added that there are ongoing discussions with the city and state about how to safely reopen the city’s venues, but the agency will focus its resources toward 2021.