There may be hope for music venues struggling to get by during the coronavirus pandemic after all. Earlier today, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced a new piece of legislation called the “Save Our Stages Act”. It’s a relief bill that aims to provide financial support to music and entertainment venues across the country, particularly those that are in danger of shutting down permanently, reports Rolling Stone.
According to a press release, the “Save Our Stages Act” will offer six months of financial support to “keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.” The legislation is geared towards operators, promoters, and talent reps at primarily small, independent venues.
The specific grant amounts would range in price, being either 45% of a business’ operation costs from the previous year or $12 million in total — whichever is the lesser amount. Venues that are granted money are then allowed to use those funds to pay off “costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic” as well as rent, utilities, mortgages, personal protective equipment, maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, and expenses to meet local and federal social distancing guidelines.
Just weeks ago, it was revealed that 90% of independent music venues risk closing for good if the COVID-19 shutdown lasts longer than six months. Our country just passed the four month mark, so that devastating future is inching closer each day. That’s why musicians, fans, and members of Congress have spent the past few months rallying in support of the Save Our Stages movement, a proposed plan by the National Independent Venue Association to help venues nationwide — and what the “Save Our Stages Act” appears to be based on.
In a statement, both Senators explained why they felt compelled to join in the fight to save music venues. “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,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate and serve our communities for generations to come.”
“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,” said Cornyn. “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.”
A similar piece of legislation called the RESTART Act, which creates a flexible loan program for small business to stay afloat through the end of the year, is also making its way through Congress. It’s sponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and Indiana Senator Todd Young.
Earlier this spring, health experts said live concerts wouldn’t return until “Fall 2021 at the earliest.” Now, some music executives predict that date could be pushed back to 2022. It’s depressing to think about, but totally possible. After all, while places like England are allowing indoor shows again in a matter of weeks, the US is busy dealing with concert-goers coughing on singers onstage and others refusing to wear masks. Maybe drive-in tours really are the future of live music.
Editor’s Note: Stay safe by picking up one of our custom face masks. A portion of the proceeds will benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Artist Relief fund supporting independent musicians.