Independent venues and theaters across the United States received some sorely needed good news yesterday. Congress has passed a bipartisan economic stimulus package that allocates some $15 billion dollars in funding specifically for the sector arguably hardest hit and the last to be able to fully reopen.
The news comes as continued efforts from organizations like NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association have championed the Save Our Stages Act that was initially introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and John Cornyn of Texas. The measure called for financial intervention to help an industry that continues to face dire straits. Earlier this year, NIVA published findings that suggested that some 90% of their national membership of nearly 3000 venues would face permanent closure if there was no fiscal relief delivered from the government.
The Save Our Stages Act called specifically for 45% of a business’ operation costs from the previous year or a $10 million ceiling, whichever is the lesser amount. Those funds would be critical in giving venues the ability to pay “costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic” such as rent, utilities, mortgages, taxes, and expenses incurred with acquiring personal protective equipment and maintaining all state and federal guidelines with regards to social distancing and safe operation.
Under the latest stimulus package, venues that qualify for funding must not be owned by a parent company that operates venues in other countries and or more than 10 states domestically. Qualifying venues also must have less than 500 employees and will be prioritized based on the amount of income lost.
NIVA board president and owner and CEO of First Avenue in Minneapolis shared the following. “We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and provided us a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the COVID-19 Relief Bill. We’re 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. We urge swift passage of this legislation, which will assist those in the greatest need and ensure the music lives on for generations to come.”
Earlier this year, NIVA spearheaded the #SOSFest which featured live performances streamed from iconic small stages across the country. Among the performances for the charity effort included Foo Fighters, Rise Against, YG, Leon Bridges, Miley Cyrus, Brittany Howard, Dave Matthews, The Roots, G-Eazy, The Lumineers, Portugal The Man., and many more.
The complete collection of performances can be streamed - HERE