The stimulus deal agreed to this weekend is a con job and maybe the most pathetic response by the federal government in the face of disaster that there has ever been.
That said, it does at least contain — some nine months after it was initially proposed — a lifeline for independent music and performance venues across the United States.
We originally wrote about the Save Our Stages Act back in July, with the warning from industry advocates that without government support, independent music and performance venues were facing “certain collapse.”
Introduced in the House by Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Williams (R-TX) and in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX), the Save Our Stages Act creates grants which will help keep venues afloat until the undetermined point in the future when people can go to places like music venues at something like full capacity.
The stimulus bill provides “money for bars and restaurants, and $15 billion in SBA grants for theater operators and small venue operators,” Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday night. “These venues… are the lifeblood of our communities. They were the first to close and will be the last to open. This bill gives them a fighting chance.”
The Save Our Stages Act gained traction in July after several similar bills had been introduced. It stalled with the greater stimulus package, which was delayed and then killed outright prior to the presidential election. As originally written, venues would have been provided grants from the SBA adding up to the lesser of 45% of their 2019 annual operation costs up to $12 million total to pay “rent, utilities, mortgages, PPE procurement, contractors, maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local or federal social distancing guidelines.'”
“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country,” owner and CEO of legendary Minneapolis-based First Avenue Productions and president of the National Independent Venue Association said in a statement. “We are also incredibly grateful that this bill provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which will help the millions of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic crisis.” NIVA was formed specifically in response to the lockdown and represents more than 3,000 independent music and performance venues across the United States.