Photo: Drea Atkins
July 24, 2020
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Corbyn (R-TX) have introduced the “Save Our Stages Act,” a proposed bill that would provide SBA grants to independent music venue operators affected by COVID-19. The grants will provide six months of financial support to help venue operations and their employees.
Music venues need assistance now more than ever before. North Carolina venues have been closed since March 30 by Governor Cooper’s orders, causing a scramble to stay afloat. A report by the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) revealed that 90 percent of venue owners, promoters, and bookers have reported they’ll be in danger of closing without financial support. The report also predicted an estimated $9 billion in losses if ticket sales are postponed until 2021.
The “Save Our Stages Act” would address the struggles of independent venues in the following ways:
- Narrowly define independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives to prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding
- Direct the SBA in making grants to eligible venues equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of operation costs from calendar year 2019 or $12 million
- Allow the Small Business Administrator to issue supplemental grants in the future if funding remains available and applicants can demonstrate need
- Permit recipients to use grants for costs incurred during the COVID pandemic
- Require recipients to return remaining funding after one year from the date of disbursement
- Permit 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
- Authorize the appropriation of $10 billion for the grant program
Adam Harke, co-chair of NIVA’s Advocacy Committee praised the bill in a statement released Wednesday. “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,” he said. “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.”
Update: Charlotte-based alliance CIVA has also launched a petition asking local government for financial assistance.