On March 13th, 2020, the lights went out on World Cafe Live stages, as theatres and music venues throughout the country went dark due to the global pandemic. World Cafe Live was immediately thrust into survival mode, grappling with little to no resources, no income, and a constant battle to troubleshoot one challenge after the next. They immediately began losing revenue and were faced with huge logistical challenges of issuing a mass volume of ticket refunds and exchanges. Staffing had to be reduced from more than 100 employees to 10. And without patrons coming through the doors, World Cafe Live needed to turn to their partnerships for a lifeline through the crisis.

The story of World Cafe Live is not unlike that of scores of other artistic and cultural venues in the Philadelphia creative community. The shutdown that was initially thought to last a month has endured for more than a year, and some organizations haven’t had the resources to stay in business. Fortunately for World Cafe Live, they had a new banking partner, Meridian Bank, that could help them through this difficult period. The reputation of Meridian Bank as a hands-on, relationship-first partner has been steadily growing in the Greater Philadelphia region in the last few years. Meridian Bank has been dedicated to elevating the banking side of their business by looking for relationships where the client’s future could be enriched together with Meridian, in partnership. And so, in April of 2020, World Cafe Live became the newest client partner of Meridian Bank, just in time to get set up with a PPP loan, the only lifeboat available to keep the business viable and provide an emergency relief fund for their staff.

Partnering with Meridian bank was crucial, especially in the economic environment World Cafe Live was now facing. Because community banks like Meridian are designed to think differently when it comes to client relationships, World Cafe Live was now the beneficiary of open and consistent communication with their banking partner, guided through the fine print, the barriers, and the strict timelines of securing the crucial support it needed.

With their long-term relationships and specialized knowledge of local markets, businesses, and customers, Meridian Bank proved their ability to make PPP funds available quickly and efficiently to their clients in need of credit. The relationship forged through the strain of the pandemic will lead to a prosperous future for both World Cafe Live and Meridian, as the bank continues to lift up small businesses and give back to the community.

After over 16 years of operation, as one of Philadelphia’s treasured live music institutions, World Cafe Live has continued to find ways to offer shared experiences with their fans and customers. Thanks to the timely partnership with Meridian Bank, World Cafe Live will remain a source of entertainment and cultural influence.

Check out World Café Live’s next virtual House Concert Series, sponsored by Meridian Bank, running through April 10th!