OTTUMWA — After months of being closed due to COVID-19, Bridge View Center has experienced a significant decline in revenue.

Executive Director Scott Hallgren said the closure caused lots of financial stress on the facility. To help with the economic instability, Bridge View launched a donor campaign to ensure operational and long-term stability in Southeast Iowa.

“Nobody could have predicted this,” Hallgren said. “We have our busier times and it really hurt and took a financial toll. We went from 100 percent revenue to zero in a matter of one day.”

“It’s unprecedented,” he added. “We never had a time where our buildings had to shut down for three months … From a business side — it [COVID-19] has a much deeper financial impact.”

Hallgren said it hasn’t just affected Bridge View Center, but also the community as well.

“It’s had a huge impact on the community,” he said, “it’s had a $2.2 million dollar economic impact. We have people who come out of town for all our events. Private speakers might have stayed in hotel rooms, ate at restaurants, stopped to get gas, snacks and pop for the drive home and now they couldn’t. It affected everyone in our community.”

Dianne Haas, a longtime supporter of Bridge View agreed. “In addition to improving the quality of life for those living in Southeast Iowa,” Haas said, “Bridge View Center has provided a site for over 6,500 events generating over $8.9 million to the local economy. This impact affects businesses such as hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and the area employment to name a few.”

Hallgren said he and staff plan to keep the campaign going for the next 12-18 months to target the areas that need extra attention and seek additional donors to have financial support along with event programming.

“Donors are a critical piece of recovery,” Hallgren said. “They are critical for quality of life and getting back to a sense of normalcy. The sooner we get up to full speed the faster they will recover economically. [The campaign] allows us to do that. We’re asking for support as a vital tool to the community.”

Hallgren said raising $100,000 would be the ideal goal, but knows it could change. Ultimately he and his staff want to raise as much as they can.

“We’re back,” Hallgren said. “While we continue to face challenges from COVID-19, reopen our venue and start our recovery, it is important to remember the power of the performing arts to connect us as a community. These events connect us together whether it’s the expo hall or theater, we are the gathering place for Ottumwa and we’re going to have a stronger community with support.”

To make a financial contribution go to bridgeviewcenter.com or mail a check to Bridge View at 102 Church St, Ottumwa, IA 52501.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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