Greenhouse Productions

Live entertainment and music venues across the country are now receiving long-awaited funds from a federal COVID-19 relief program. Several promoters in northern Arizona are among the recipients of the grants seen as a lifeline to the struggling industry. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

A group of independent live entertainment venues in Arizona has announced they’ll require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results for entry. It comes as an increasing number of theaters, clubs and festivals nationwide are putting similar mandates in place. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


Like many musicians, Dom Flemons was nervous about returning to the stage after more than a year away from performing. Though he spent the shutdown working on several projects with high-profile collaborators, Flemons still wondered if his live shows would be the same as before the pandemic, and whether audiences would respond like they had in the past. But Flemons, a Grammy Award-winning, Arizona-born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, had little to fear. Audiences have embraced his signature high-energy live shows with a reinvigorated enthusiasm. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, Flemons talks about why the live music experience matters.

Orpheum Theater

For more than a year now, the live entertainment industry has struggled to hang on as the COVID-19 pandemic brought gigs and revenue to a grinding halt. A federal grant program called the Save Our Stages Act, part of the American Rescue Plan, was supposed to help. But to date, none of the more than $16 billion has made it to local venues. That’s because the system crashed shortly after the program launched last month when thousands of eager people tried to apply online. The Small Business Administration says it’s back up and grants should start going out at the end of the month, good news for many in the music, theater and film industries. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Susan Walter, general manager of the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, about the pressures she’s faced this last year trying to stay afloat and hopeful.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

At 93, screen legend Sidney Poitier has achieved a new milestone: He's the namesake of a new film school.



Independent live music venues in the U.S. were among the first businesses to close at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll also be some of the last to open, and that’s put thousands of clubs and theaters on the cusp of going under, and has left scores of employees and touring bands without income. A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate aims to throw the industry a lifeline by providing $10 billion in federal grants to pay rent, mortgage, payroll and other expenses venues have accumulated as nearly all their income has dried up. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a co-sponsor of the Save Our Stages Act and spoke with KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius.

Anderson Gould Jr. via AP

Nakotah LaRance, a champion hoop dancer who traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil, has died at age 30.

Orpheum Theater

The live music industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With virtually all shows and tours cancelled revenue has come to a halt for thousands of promoters across the country. One of northern Arizona’s biggest music venues, the Orpheum Theater, was having a banner year with sold out shows and packed calendar. But the economic shutdown forced managers to layoff dozens of full and part-time employees. The Orpheum has now joined other independent venues across the country to advocate for their industry. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Orpheum owner Charles Smith and GM Susan Walter about how they’re planning for the future of live music.

Courtesy of Ryan Singer

This month is the release of the latest “Star Wars” movie. “The Rise of Skywalker” is said to be the final chapter in the original saga, continuing the storylines of rebellion, dark versus light, endurance, and friendship. Those themes have long resonated with “Star Wars” devotees. That is uniquely true among Native American fans. From landscapes to survival skills to philosophy to imperialism, “Star Wars” speaks to the historical experiences of many Indigenous people. An art exhibit that reopens at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff Fri, Dec. 20 sheds light on those connections. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports on “The Force Is With Our People,” an all-Native-artist show.

Route 66 was once the Mother Road of America, bringing tourists and travelers to small towns along the path from Chicago to Los Angeles. But, as the road was replaced by Interstate 40, many towns lost those visitors and still struggle to stay afloat.