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Denver Arts and Venues to furlough employees, close venues due to COVID-19

This impacts venues including Red Rocks and the Denver Performing Arts Complex. It will impact about 70 employees.

DENVER — Citing the continued devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the live events industry, Denver Arts and Venues said Wednesday it intends to lay off or furlough employees until the end of the year, as well as close some of its venues.

The agency sent a letter to employees saying that despite efforts to cut costs and keep people working, the pandemic has had too much of an impact.

“As our business operations have reduced, many employees’ workloads have diminished,” the letter reads. “The current pandemic has impacted our operation significantly, and as a result, we must make some difficult operational and personnel decisions.”

> Watch the video above for a previous 9NEWS story about the impact of COVID-19 on live events. 

Approximately 70 employees at Denver Arts and Venues will face some level of furlough, Brian Kitts, the agency’s spokesperson, said. Beginning at the end of the month, some will be furloughed full-time until at least the end of the year, while the rest will be furloughed part-time.

This impacts employees at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, McNichols Building and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Two Denver-owned venues – the Denver Coliseum and Colorado Convention Center – will remain open for their current COVID-19 related functions.

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The Denver Coliseum is serving as a temporary homeless shelter, and the Colorado Convention Center has been converted into a field hospital that has not yet been used.

According to the letter, the furloughs go into effect on Sept. 27 and will last at least until Jan. 2.

RELATED: Colorado Symphony cancels all concerts through Dec. 31

Earlier Wednesday, the Colorado Symphony announced it has canceled all its events at the Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The Colorado Ballet also said it was furloughing its dancers.

Kitts said it’s unknown when the Denver venues will reopen, and that it’s dependent on pandemic restrictions.

This announcement comes the day after venues across Colorado and the country were lit red to raise awareness for COVID-19’s impact on people employed in the live entertainment industry.

Red Rocks Amphitheater began hosting live concerts for the first time this week since the pandemic began. 

The amphitheater sat empty for much of the summer, sidelined by a pandemic that forbid us to gather under its iconic rocks. Then a digital phone company called Visible and the City of Denver came together to redefine what live music can be.

"Anyone who has been here before can definitely tell just looking out here that Red Rocks has never looked like this before," said Charlie Smith, with Madwell, a company that handles marketing for Visible. "We definitely want to bring people back to things that excite them. Bring them back to this iconic venue."

The closest you can get to watch the concert is miles away. Your best chance at listening in is through your cell phone through the live stream link. 

"We have some really awesome tech that we’re bringing to this virtual crowd to really be able to bring them a step closer to the artist and kind of make them feel like they’re back in the seats," said Smith. "We all hope that we can all come back and sit down in these seats again and watch a live show."

RELATED: Colorado venues light up red in support of RESTART Act

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