90% of Independent Music Venues Could Close Due to COVID-19
BY ALEX YOUNG, Consequence of Sound
The National Independent Venue Association is asking Congress for long-term financial assistance
The ongoing shutdown of live music due to COVID-19 could lead many independent venues to shutter their doors forever.
According to a new survey conducted by the National Independent Venue Association, which represents 2,000 members in all 50 states, 90% of its members say they will be forced to cease operations permanently if the shutdown lasts six months or longer and there’s no federal support provided.
The NIVA, which was formed in response to the pandemic, is calling on Congress to adjust the existing Paycheck Protection Program so that it caters to the needs of independent venues. Specifically, the NIVA is seeking the equivalent of six months’ worth of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating costs such as rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, and insurance that still need to be covered, even when venues are not permitted to be open.
The NIVA is also asking Congress for loan forgiveness and tax credits specifically related to ticket refunds, employee retention, and safe workplace initiatives, as well as the expansion of the PPP to cover salary and insurance benefits for part-time employees, which make up a large percentage of venue staff.
A bi-partisan group of 150 members of Congress recently sent letters to Senate and House leaders expressing their support for NIVA’s requests.
“Live event venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and they are likely to be among the last to reopen,” reads a letter sent to both chambers in late May. “Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be months away. Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue. The continued closures will impact the hundreds of contractors, suppliers, and business partners that support the live entertainment industry in our states and districts.”
“These venues support the economies of communities across the country, are a crucial component of the music industry’s ecosystem, and serve as incubators and launch pads for the most popular talent in the world,” the letter continued. “We can provide a vital lifeline for the industry that will help to sustain the iconic venues that are central to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of so many of our communities. This industry is not going to make it without our help.”
Artists and members of the general public can show their own support for the NIVA by visiting SaveOurStages.com. There, they will have the option to send a letter to their local and state representatives to encourage the passage of legislation benefiting independent venues.