National Independent Venue Association Applauds Save Our Stages Act

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association applauds the introduction of the bi-partisan Save Our Stages Act introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The Save Our Stages Act directly impacts independent venues across the country such as Songbirds located in Chattanooga.

“Our members told us months ago that if the shutdown lasted six months or longer and there wasn’t federal relief to hold them over, 90 percent of them would fold permanently,” said Dayna Frank, president of NIVA and CEO First Avenue Productions. “With no revenue and immense overhead, four months in, it’s already happening. The warning light is flashing red and our only hope is for legislation like Save Our Stages Act or RESTART Act to be passed before Congress goes on August recess. Otherwise, most businesses in this industry will collapse.”

“On behalf of our more than 2,000 member venues, promoters, and festivals, as well as their employees, artists, and local communities who are facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re incredibly grateful to Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar,” said Adam Hartke, co-chair of NIVA’s Advocacy Committee and president of Hartke Presents. “While existing government assistance programs have helped other industries, they weren’t tailored to meet the needs of small businesses like ours that have zero revenue, enormous overhead and no visibility into when we can fully re-open. The Save Our Stages Act will provide the assistance we need to get through the shutdown until we can reopen safely and once again become the economic generators for our communities that we’ve always been.” A Chicago study last year showed that for every $1 spent on a ticket at a local venue, $12 of economic activity was generated for area businesses such as restaurants, retailers, and hotels.

Through SaveOurStages.com, more than 1 million emails have been sent letting all 538 members of Congress know that constituents want to keep independent venues alive. The Save Our Stages Act would provide Small Business Administration grants for independent live music venue operators affected by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. These grants would provide at least six months of financial support to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.

“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 Senator Cornyn. “The culture around Texas dance halls and live music have shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

“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,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate and serve our communities for generations to come.

Independent live music and entertainment venues have been hard-hit during the coronavirus pandemic, with 90 percent of venue owners, promoters, and bookers reporting they are at risk of closing permanently without additional financial assistance. If ticket sales do not resume until 2021, the industry will have lost an estimated $9 billion in ticket sales alone. The Save Our Stages Act:

Establishes a $10 billion grant program for live venue operators, promoters, producers and talent representatives

Directs the Small Business Administrator to make grants to eligible recipients equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of gross revenue from 2019 or $12 million

Allows the Small Business Administrator to issue supplemental grants in the future if funding remains available and applicants can demonstrate continued need

Permits recipients to use grants for costs incurred during the COVID pandemic

Permits recipients to use grants for rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, PPE procurement, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines

The Save Our Stages Act is endorsed by and the National Independent Talent Organization.


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