Even as Covid-19 lockdowns ease and physical concerts tentatively start to return, independent music venues are still facing a battle to survive. The level of support they’ve been getting from governments varies widely around the world, but in the US there are new moves afoot to help those venues (plus promoters and festivals) to stay alive.
Specifically there’s a proposed piece of legislation called the Save Our Stages Act, which is ‘bipartisan’ by dint of being introduced by pairings of Republican and Democrat politicians (John Cornyn and Amy Klobuchar in the US Senate and Peter Welch and Roger Williams in the US House of Representatives). Some additional heavyweight backing comes from Charles Schumer, the US Senate minority leader.
The act would provide ‘small business administration’ grants for independent live venues, promoters and festivals covering at least six months of financial support, in a way that campaigners say will be much more effective for these businesses than the existing paycheck protection program (PPP) loans in the US.
“These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to reopen,” said Schumer at a press conference for the proposed legislation. “That’s why it’s so important to provide dedicated federal assistance to independent venues so when it is safe, we can gather again for music, comedy, theater and other live performances in venues that have been around for generations.”
The proposed bill follows a campaign organised by the National Independent Venue Association, which had canvassed its members and found that 90% of them expected to shut permanently if the Covid-19 lockdown lasted more than six months, and if there were no significant federal assistance. The progress of the bill, particularly at an increasingly tense time ahead of the US presidential election in November, will be watched closely by the music industry.
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