COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Many local performing arts centers and venues in Columbia have temporarily closed their doors due to the pandemic, and local businesses are taking the hit.
The Blue Note, one of Columbia’s popular event centers has temporarily closed their doors to the public due to COVID-19. The venue plans to re-open its doors next month for a rescheduled comedy show that was supposed to take place last year.
The Missouri Theatre is another popular performing arts venue that has decided to temporarily close in response to the pandemic.
Many local events and festivals have been canceled in response to the pandemic, which has caused a dramatic decrease in hotel occupancy due to the lack of tourists.
“When is comes to occupancy we’re down, 2019 to 2020 we’re down about 17 percent and that’s a really significant drop and that’s for the calendar year. Looking just at December in 2019 we were at 43.9% and then in 2020 we were at 34.1% so there are still fewer people traveling and staying in hotels and so that also means that there are fewer people in Columbia to dine in our restaurants shop in our stores and have tourism-related experiences.”, said Megan McConachie, the Strategic Communications Manager for Columbia’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
McConachie said the local performing arts events and shows attract tourists to locally-owned shops and restaurants. The lack of these events has hit local business owners hard because they depend on the tourist traffic.
“Columbia is definitely a destination that really promotes its arts and culture whether that’s visual arts, performing arts, concerts, so the venues and facilities that host those art and cultural experiences have definitely taken a significant hit by the pandemic, their one of our really vital groups on tourism partners.”, said McConachie.
Paula McFarling, a local business owner of The Blue Stem Missouri Crafts in downtown Columbia, says the lack of events has greatly impacted sales and traffic within her store. She said their business heavily relies on tourists coming in town for special events and concerts, since most venues have closed their doors the traffic downtown has significantly decreased.
“It’s been way down it feels way down, being downtown there’s so many fewer people that are on the streets and that liveliness that we always felt downtown for many years, it’s just quieter.”, said McFarling.
McFarling said the local support from Columbia residents coming in to shop at local businesses has increased significantly since the Christmas holiday. She hopes with warmer months on the horizon that there are more outdoor events and concerts scheduled to bring in the tourist traffic again.