Jeramey Jannene

Pabst Theater Group Pivots To Weddings

Plus: National venue group including 12 Milwaukee groups requests pandemic bailout.

By - May 18th, 2020 11:04 am
Bridge and groom onstage at the Pabst Theater. Image from PTG.

Bridge and groom onstage at the Pabst Theater. Image from PTG.

Bon Iver or Art Garfunkel won’t entertain the masses from the stage of the Pabst Theater for some time, but you can.

The Pabst Theater Group has pivoted its business from live entertainment to socially-distant weddings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can now get married on stage at the Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater or Turner Hall Ballroom.

“Couples who’ve had to change their wedding plans due to COVID-19 are invited to get hitched with us, without sacrificing the elegance they’ve intended for their special day,” said the organizer in announcing its new “elopement” packages.

Individuals can rent one of the venues for three hours with a 10-person maximum. And don’t fret about your friends and family missing out, an optional live streaming service is available, as is photography and bar service.

“Did we mention you can do this anywhere in the building?” says the booking website. In short, no need to do it from the cheap seats. Pick the stage you want and see if they’ll let you hang out in the green room before you say “I do.”

The organization has long offered weddings on off days at its venues, but its normally packed calendar is now wide open. Interested couples can inquire online.

That wide-open calendar isn’t a good thing for the viability of the for-profit Pabst Theater Group or its non-profit venues. A relief fund raised over $71,000 in March to support the employees, some of whom have been with the organization for decades.

The Pabst group is one of over 800 venue operators that partnered to form the National Independent Venue Association in the wake of the pandemic. NIVA is advocating for targeted federal relief to support the venues. “Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for handouts,” said Dayna Frank, NIVA board president and owner of First Avenue in Minneapolis. “But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.” The association said its venues were among the first to close and will be among the last to reopen.

A number of other Milwaukee entertainment organizations, including Cactus Club, Company Brewing, Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, Live @ The Lakefront, Shank Hall, Site 1A, The Cooperage, The Miramar Theatre, The Rave, Var Gallery & Studios and Walker’s Point Music Hall, are also members of NIVA.

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