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Senators Introduce Bill to Aid Indie Music Venues During Pandemic

The Viper Room
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Two U.S. Senators, Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican John Cornyn of Texas, introduced a new bill designed to aid independent music and entertainment venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Save Our Stages Act,” rolled out Wednesday, would offer six months of financial support to help “keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America,” according to a press release.

The coronavirus has derailed the live music business, with any indie venues temporarily closed given the higher probability of transmission in small, crowded indoor areas. As the bill notes, and as previously reported, 90% of owners, promoters and bookers are at risk of permanently closing within a few months without financial assistance.

“Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”

Cornyn added, “Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close. The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

The “Save Our Stages Act” would “narrowly define independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives” in order to avoid large corporations from receiving funds. Grants would total the lesser of $12 million or 45 percent of a business’ operation costs from 2019. Supplemental grants would potentially be available in the future, depending on funding availability and applicant needs.

Recipients could utilize grants for costs incurred during the pandemic, along with rent, utilities, mortgages, personal protective equipment (PPE), regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, and expenses related to meeting local, state or federal social distancing guidelines. They would be required to “return remaining funding after one year from the date of disbursement.”

Last week, Los Angeles’ Satellite discontinued booking live music due to the ongoing pandemic, opting to become a restaurant.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) recently created a proposal urging Congress to adjust the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), launching the #SaveOurStages campaign.