Live venues are about to get a bit of sorely needed financial relief.
On Sunday, congress passed a new $900 billion pandemic relief bill that will not only give citizens a $600 stimulus check, but also provide “live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions” with $15 billion in federal funding.
According to a statement by First Avenue Productions owner/chief executive and National Independent Venue Association board president Dayna Frank, this new development is a welcome bit of aid. “We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and provided us a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the COVID-19 Relief Bill. We’re also incredibly grateful that this bill provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which will help the millions of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic crisis. We urge swift passage of this legislation, which will assist those in the greatest need and ensure the music lives on for generations to come.”
The news comes after a Congressional hearing last Tuesday where a handful of representatives from the live music industry testified about their plight. “We’re here before you with our hats in our hands,” said Michael Strickland of Knoxville, TN lighting company Bandit Lites. “Thirty percent of the industry is gone now, and if nothing done by February, sixty percent will be gone.” Wichita, KS venue owner Adam Hartke added, “Please don’t let the music die. Please save our stages.”
The pandemic has been especially hard on live venues, who were among the first to close down when COVID-19 started getting bad in mid-March and still have no timeframe for reopening as cases continue to surge all over the country. NIVA reported back in June that after surveying their more than 2000 members, 90% said that without some sort of aid, they would be at risk of closing down.
Legislation has been in the works since July, when Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the ‘Save Our Stages’ Act. The bill would provide six months of financial support in the form of small business loans to live venues affected by the pandemic in order to take care of their employees, rent, maintenance and “preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.”
Since Sunday, the Senate has also passed the bill, sending it now to President Trump to be signed, which he is expected to do in the next couple of days.