Charlotte Music Venues need assistance from the city and state before it’s too late

By Charlie Leonard

September 2, 2020

The Charlotte Independent Venue Alliance (CIVA) has requested the help of the community in securing state and federal government funding. In an open letter to music and culture lovers, the alliance of 13 local entertainment venues outline the dire financial situation:

The breaking point has arrived. If Charlotte independent music venues don’t get the support they need soon, there won’t be any left by the time we are allowed to reopen.

Independent music venues are much more than bars or restaurants with some music. They are economic engines, neighborhood centers, small business launchpads, cultural accelerators, beloved institutions, and most importantly, community builders. A recent Chicago study estimated that $1 spent at a small venue resulted in $12 of economic activity in their neighborhoods — meals, coffee, local transportation, hotels, retail, parking, etc. Can Charlotte really afford to watch local music venues close their doors for good?

CIVA was formed in March as a response to the mandated closure of live entertainment venues due to COVID-19. Originally, the sole focus of the group was to develop a shared set of guidelines for when the venues would eventually reopen. After six months of remaining closed, which has been extended until at least September 22 by Governor Roy Cooper, the alliance realized that it may not be possible to reopen at all.

Even with funding coming via GoFundMes, merchandise sales, and benefit concerts, CIVA states that without government funding, it won’t be enough to survive their mounting debts:

Independent music venues have lost nearly 100% of their revenue since the shutdown began on March 14. Music venues were the first to close and will be the last to open. While restaurants can offer takeout and breweries have opened patios, music venues are stuck with locked doors, dark stages, and a mountain of bills for mortgages and rent, utilities, taxes, insurance, licensing and staff. 

When Charlotte music venues can reopen their stages, they will do so safely for music fans, employees, musicians, and crew. But when might that happen?  The time to save our local stages is now.

On Monday, CIVA launched a petition to garner support from the community. The petition aims to secure CARES Act funding that’s available at the local and state government level for struggling businesses. Those same funds are set to expire at the end of the year, adding to the situation’s urgency. 

So far, over 4,700 people have signed in solidarity. To add your name to the petition, follow the link here.

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