U.S. Small Business Administration Worcester Hanover Theatre Palladium

The biggest grant in Worcester was $3.8 million to the Hanover Theatre.

WORCESTER — Several Worcester businesses received a big cash infusion to help weather the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts a $3.8 million Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

Other Worcester businesses to receive the grant include the Palladium ($3 million) and EcoTarium ($1.1 million).

The Hanover Theatre lost $7 million during the pandemic, Troy Siebels, the organization’s president and chief executive officer, said.

To stay afloat, capital campaign funds earmarked for a future outdoor venue were instead used to pay staff salaries, while the theater was shut down for months.

A sizable chunk of the $3.8 million will be used to pay back those expenses.

“We hope to fill the hole and keep upright over the coming year,” Siebels said.

Siebels expects a potential revenue shortfall this year, because the delta variant could reduce audience numbers.

‘It really bailed us out’

Palladium owner John Peters is thrilled to receive the $3 million grant.

“Without it we would be in a bad position,” Peters said. “It really bailed us out.”

Like many businesses, the Palladium was shut down for months after the state of emergency ordered by Gov. Charlie Baker in March 2020.

Last Friday, the Palladium held its first concert — performed outdoors — since the shutdown.

The financial pinch is still being felt. 

The federal Personal Protection Program provided funds for the first few months of shutdown, but Peters said the bills kept coming, including insurance, property taxes and equipment leases. There were also hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket refunds.

“We will be able to stay open,” Peters said of the $3 million injection. “We will be able to pay our expenses to run the business.”

Nervous about delta variant

Like Siebels at the Hanover Theatre, Peters is nervous about the delta variant and its possible impact on the health of his staff and the business’ bottom line.

He decided that all of his employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 including approximately 70 part-time workers.

“It’s in the best interest of them, and everyone they work with,” Peters said.

At the EcoTarium, the $1.1 million grant will help cover expenses paid during the pandemic.

If it wasn’t for the grant, the nature and science museum would have dipped further into its roughly $10 million endowment to meet expenses.

“The ($1.1 million grant) allowed us to breath, and not overdraw on that endowment piece,” Kerry Castorano, vice president of institutional advancement at the EcoTarium, said.

The nature and science museum fully reopened one month ago, and limited hours remain. Currently, the museum is open Friday through Sunday, compared to Tuesday through Sunday before the pandemic.

Others organizations in Worcester Country to receive a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant include: Indian Ranch concert venue in Webster ($1.6 million); CinemaWorld, an independent movie theater in Fitchburg ($744,110); and Gardner Cinemas ($650,764).

Contact Henry Schwan at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @henrytelegram