by Jem Aswad
October 2, 2020
The House of Representatives passed the revised $2.2 trillion “Heroes Act” coronavirus stimulus package on Thursday evening, which includes provisions of the $10 billion bipartisan Save Our Stages Act designed to provide financial assistance to independent music and live-entertainment venues across the U.S. The Democratic-controlled House voted 214 to 207 to pass the bill, largely along party lines.
However, the Republican-controlled Senate — one of the least productive bodies of federal government in U.S. history — appears unlikely to vote on the latest version unless an agreement is reached between Democrats and the White House.
“The Recording Academy is gratified that this legislation includes support for music creators and thanks Speaker Pelosi and the legislators involved,” said Harvey Mason jr., Recording Academy chair & interim president/CEO. As an organization that is the voice of music professionals who are deeply impacted by the current economy, we hope that all parties will work together to forge a compromise that will be signed into law as quickly as possible.”
Independent venues have been devastated financially by the pandemic; according to a poll taken by the 2,600-member National Independent Venues Association, some 90% of its members said they will be forced to close permanently without federal assistance. In July, Senators Amy Klobuchar (a Democrat) and John Cornyn (a Republican) authored the Save Our Stages act, which requests $10 billion in relief for independent venues. While this move is a step forward, there is still a long way to go before relief reaches these venues — here’s what you can do to help independent venues in the meantime.
Section 619 of the Heroes Act reads: “Grants for Independent Live Venue Operators (H.R. 7806, Save our Stages Act or the SOS Act) 37 1. Authorizes $10 Billion for the SBA to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues. 2. The SBA may make an initial grant of up to $12 million dollars to an eligible operator, promoter, producer, or talent representative; and a supplemental grant that is equal to 50% of the initial grant. 3. Such grants shall be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.”
Senator Klobuchar said of the move, “Independent venues were some of the first establishments to close down and will likely be some of the last to open. I refuse to sit by and let the music die, which is why I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Save our Stages Act in Congress. Now that the new coronavirus relief bill includes Save Our Stages, we are one step closer to getting small entertainment venues the help they need to make ends meet and serve our communities for generations to come. I thank Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues in the House for including this much needed relief that will help support venues across the country.”
“We’re incredibly grateful that this piece of legislation encompasses the provisions of the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, which was sponsored in the House by Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Williams (R-TX) and in the Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN),” said NIVA rep Audrey Fix Schaefer. “We also thank Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Representative Velásquez (D-NY) for their leadership in recognizing the unique and perilous situation independent venues face since we have been shuttered for more than six months with no revenue, enormous overhead, and no foreseeable timeframe until we can fully reopen across the country.
“We hope our elected officials come together on COVID-19 assistance in the coming days, not weeks or even months. Our small, independent businesses, which normally contribute billions of dollars to local economies, are on the precipice of mass collapse if this critical funding doesn’t come through.
“We’re cautiously optimistic our elected officials understand that if they assist us now, we can be part of the economic renewal of small towns and big cities, since for every $1 spent on a concert ticket at a small venue, $12 of economic activity is generated for area businesses like restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. This investment will pay off for communities and workers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.”