The owner of Q.E.D. Astoria, a live entertainment venue in Queens, is cautiously optimistic about how the Save Our Stages Act will help her in the long run.
“We have a lot of local Queens vendors that don’t have enough stuff to have their own shop,” said Kambri Crews of the items up for sale at the cash register inside her business.
Crew’s venture, Q.E.D. Astoria, has been mostly shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic.
On occasion, she’s opened up to sell things like books, puzzles and other gifts that are on display in the front portion of the business.
Only 9 months ago, Q.E.D. Astoria was a profitable entertainment venue that hosted a variety of events, each month, including standup comedy shows.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there’s been a ban, across New York State, prohibiting ticketed events for live entertainment.
Unlike with restaurants and gyms, however, there’s been no movement to reopen places like Q.E.D. The closure has been hard for Crews but has also sidelined her husband Christian who is a comedian.
“I’ve been saying, this is our lemonade. We’ve been given a whole bunch of lemons and this is the lemonade we made out of it,” said Crews.
Crews has stuck it out long enough to see lawmakers throw the industry a lifeline.
Part of the latest COVID-19 stimulus includes the Save our Stages Act which was co-sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer.
“There are hundreds of these places in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan,” said Schumer on Monday.
The Save Our Stages Act has earmarked $15 billion in relief that will go to businesses like comedy clubs, independent movie venues and similar cultural institutions.
The grants, which will be distributed by the Small Business Administration, can be used to cover six months of payroll and costs like rent, utilities and maintenance.
“This bill is meant exactly for venue’s like Q.E.D. We fit all the guidelines and parameters,” said Crews.
To qualify for assistance, entertainment venues must have lost at least 25% of their annual revenue.
Crews estimates that Q.E.D has lost more than 70% of the annual revenue it made in 2019.
“We had turned a profit. We had no debt and we had a flush bank account. That flush bank account is now down to $0 and we are in debt now,” said Crews.
Crews is now only cautiously optimistic about how much Save our Stages will help her in the long run.
In the meantime, she’s doing what she can to help other small businesses and is operating a holiday pop-up with other local vendors at Q.E.D.
“So Kambri has given me this opportunity and I’m so thankful for it because I work out of my apartment and sell online,” said Jade Oliver, the owner of Vintage Queens NYC which is participating in the pop-up at Q.E.D.
The holiday market at Q.E.D is open through Christmas Eve on Thursday.