Update: A staff member for senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sent Billboard the following statement in support of the Save Our Stages Act being add to the Heroes Act.
“Independent venues were some of the first establishments to close down and will likely be some of the last to open. I refuse to sit by and let the music die, which is why I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Save our Stages Act in Congress,” Klobuchar said. “Now that the new coronavirus relief bill includes Save Our Stages, we are one step closer to getting small entertainment venues the help they need to make ends meet and serve our communities for generations to come. I thank Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues in the House for including this much needed relief that will help support venues across the country.”
A bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives has introduced a revised relief package that now includes the Save Our Stages Act which would provide badly needed aid to members of both the National Independent Venue Association and the National Independent Talent Organization.
If passed and signed into law, the $2.2 trillion Heroes Act would include another round of stimulus checks to American families, a second round of PPP loans for American businesses and “targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators,” according to a top-line item on a one-page summary of the 2,500-page bill.
For venues, the target assistance would include $10 billion in relief aid for independent venues and agencies and others music-oriented independent businesses. The live music business has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with venues among the first to close and likely the last to reopen as the country works to contain the spread of the virus. As the pandemic stretches into its sixth month, 90 percent of NIVA’s 2,500 member venues face going out of business if they don’t receive some kind of government relief by the end of the year.
According to the text of the revised bill — which you can read in its entirety here or in an summary document here — the Heroes Act authorizes the Small Business Administration to make “grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues.”
Organizations could apply for and receive a $12 million grant and a supplemental grant equal to 50 percent of the initial grant. Unlike a loan, the grants do not need to be repaid, but they can only be applied toward “specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment,” according to a summary of the bill.
“We’re incredibly grateful that this piece of legislation encompasses the provisions of the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act,” says Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for NIVA. The House bill was sponsored by representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Williams (R-TX) as well as Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who helped draft and introduce the bill to the public.
“We also thank Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi (D-CA) and Representative (Nydia) Velásquez (D-NY) for their leadership in recognizing the unique and perilous situation independent venues face since we have been shuttered for more than six months with no revenue, enormous overhead, and no foreseeable timeframe until we can fully reopen across the country,” Fix Schaefer said. “We hope our elected officials come together on COVID-19 assistance in the coming days, not weeks or even months. Our small, independent businesses, which normally contribute billions of dollars to local economies, are on the precipice of mass collapse if this critical funding doesn’t come through. We’re cautiously optimistic our elected officials understand that if they assist us now, we can be part of the economic renewal of small towns and big cities, since for every $1 spent on a concert ticket at a small venue, $12 of economic activity is generated for area businesses like restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. This investment will pay off for communities and workers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.”
The bill will eventually go to the House floor for a vote and if passed will move on to the Senate for consideration. While the legislation is far from a sure thing, NIVA members are hopeful the bill’s bi-partisan support will push it over the finish line. Congress is expected to return home soon and begin its October break ahead of the elections.