We thought things would be better by now.

Back in March when the pandemic first caused shutdowns, we thought the closures and restrictions aimed at controlling COVID-19 would be over before summer. When the case numbers dipped with warmer weather and many businesses were able to reopen, albeit with safety measures still in place, we thought maybe by summer’s end we’d be back to some sense of “normal.” Then school started, cases began to rise again at a frightening clip, and we again see our community and local economy battered by a disease and a renewed round of restrictions.

In other words, it’s been a really rough year. And typically when we all go through a rough patch, we’re able to help each other through by gathering for a concert, or playing basketball at the Y, or having drinks and watching a standup comedian bring some laughter to soothe whatever pain we’re experiencing.

The pandemic has taken that from us, and while retail and restaurants have been able to at least muddle through with the help of our community, some businesses have barely been able to open their doors; some haven’t been able to at all.

The performing arts are at a standstill. No Spokane Symphony season. No Broadway shows at the FIC. No concerts at Berserk or Lucky You Lounge or under the Pavilion at Riverfront Park. Movie theaters were only open for a few weeks before being forced closed again. Local museums had a longer window after reopening, but closed again in the latest round of health restrictions. All the businesses and buildings dedicated to keeping Spokane County entertained are going to need our help, whether it’s by purchasing gift cards for future shows, or attending everything you can once they’re able to fully reopen and fire up their spotlights again.

“We’ve been closed for months with no end in sight and, you know, bills to pay and staff with families to feed,” Spokane Comedy Club co-owner Adam Norwest says in this sixth edition of Back to Business, describing how instead of delivering laughs to survive, the club started delivering pizzas and milkshakes.

Back to Business is a local marketing effort developed by the Inlander and several community institutions, including GSI, STCU and Washington Trust Bank (see page 5 for more details). These partners recognize the struggles of our local arts and entertainment entities, and their importance to making life worth living in the Inland Northwest.

This issue is the sixth in a series, and this one is dedicated to supporting local businesses. Inside you’ll learn how our local theater companies are surviving the pandemic, where you can get a safe gym or yoga workout, what’s happening with the convention and tourism business during this trying time, what’s the latest from our local professional sports teams, and much more.   

Life is going to look a lot different on the other side of the pandemic, but we know we need artists and the venues that support them to make it, for the good of Spokane County’s soul. And we’re going to want to go to a ballgame, or a movie, or take an art class with our friends again. It’s good to know we can all have a hand in making sure that happens.

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