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‘You just made my day dude’

Local performance and event venues receive $2 million funding boost

By John McCracken

Frank Hermans stands outside of the Let Me Be Frank Productions building on Broadway. The theater production company was recently awarded $200,000 in grant funding through the state’s live venue relief program. John McCracken photo

Frank Hermans has been performing in Green Bay for decades. As the owner of Let Me Be Frank Productions (305 S Broadway), he said he looks forward to each year. The last two years have been rocky, to say the least.

“We’re down 30%,” Hermans said, “and the year before we were down 70%.”

To make ends meet and remain intact in the volatile live entertainment industry, Let Me Be Frank applied for funding through Wisconsin’s live event small businesses program.

On a phone call with Hermans, Green Bay City Pages broke the news to the performer that Let Me Be Frank had been awarded $200,000 through the program. Green Bay City Pages learned this information through a media release provided by Gov. Evers’ office.

“You just made my day dude,” Hermans said. “Holy cow, I’m like ready to do some backflips.”

Let Me Be Frank was one of many Green Bay area venues and entertainment-reliant businesses that received these funds. The group ranges from live music venues to private event services and spaces. The announced awards total just under $2 million. A full list of the grant recipients includes:

• Birder Studio of Performing Arts, $80,993
• Brown County Fair Association, $82,086
• Daddy D Productions, $20,000
• Let Me Be Frank Productions, $200,000
• Gather on Broadway, $200,000
• Green Bay Community Theatre, $65,487
• Meyer Theatre, $200,000
• Riverside Ballroom, $200,000
• Skyline Exhibit Resources, $200,000
• The Green Room, $81,075
• The Rock Garden Weddings and Event Venue, $200,000
• The Travelling Chef Hospitality Group (Three Three Five on Broadway, Fort Howard Lodge), $200,000
• Townline Pub & Grill, $200,000

Let Me Be Frank is an entertainment production company that specializes in family-friendly, parody and pop culture laced shows. The company has been hitting the stage since 2000. Over the past two decades, he has produced over 120 shows and performed to more than 300,000 audience members.

Hermans said when the pandemic first hit, he was able to stay afloat thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which was administered by the US Small Business Administration. Hermans received roughly $74,000 in two separate PPP payments in the past two years.

“I had to dig into my personal retirement account and fund Let Me Be Frank last year,” Hermans said.

The production company has released its 2022 show schedule and hopes to return to a normal year of revenue and packed seats moving forward. Hermans said with 17 employees, the funding will go to continue supporting them as well as funding performers who make the shows happen.

“The last two years have really affected my performers,” Hermans said. “And a lot of them they do this for their living.”
Hermans said the grant funding will also allow him to ramp up the production of his shows as well as the equipment and technology the company uses to make the performances the best they can be.

“When you come to see us we want it to feel like you’re on Broadway or down in Branson,” Hermans said. “Really what we’ve been doing is living on bologna sandwiches for two years. So this grant will enable us to upgrade.”

John McCracken is the Editor of Green Bay City Pages. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jmcjmc451.

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