Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced a bill, the Save Our Stages Act, that would provide indie music venues with Small Business Administration (SBA) funding in an effort to alleviate the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdown measures.
Senator Cornyn and Senator Klobuchar recently unveiled the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act (SOS Act), which, if signed into law, would authorize $10 billion in grants for eligible independent music venues, thereby covering the estimated $9 billion in losses that the establishments will suffer if ticket sales don’t resume in earnest until 2021. More specifically, the proposed legislation would afford venue owners “six months of financial support,” according to Senator Cornyn’s formal announcement, consisting of either 45 percent of their 2019 operational costs or $12 million (the lower of the two figures).
Predictably, given the well-documented series of questionable and allegedly fraudulent loans issued under the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the SOS Act would “prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding” by applying a stringent definition of what constitutes an independent venue. Live music establishments could then use the aid to cover operational expenses (including rent, employees’ pay, insurance premiums, and more), offset the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and better adhere to their respective states’ social distancing requirements and/or guidelines.
Though artists are free to hold concerts in several countries and U.S. states presently, ongoing novel coronavirus concerns and government mandates are continuing to prevent the live entertainment sphere from resuming normal operations. Last month, we reported on a discouraging survey published by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which found that 90 percent of its 2,000 or so member venues and promoters “will close permanently in a few months without federal funding.”
Across the pond, UK venue advocate The Music Venue Trust (MVT) expressed a similar view, indicating in May that a $1.8 million influx of donations enabled it to save 140 entities from imminent bankruptcy. And earlier this month, we reported that the UK government had unveiled a $1.9 billion rescue package for local entertainment industries (independent music venues among them).
The National Independent Venue Association is rallying behind the Save Our Stages Act, including by voicing support on social media, maintaining a website promoting the legislation, pushing a petition through which individuals can encourage their congressional representatives to back the bill, and even offering a line of “Save Our Stages” apparel and gear.