Music venues have been hard hit by the effects of COVID-19 with concerts and other live events put on hold indefinitely.
A coalition of independent concert venues across the nation have issued a letter to Congress asking for assistance to help offset the loss of business they’ve endured during the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Independent Venue Association is comprised of over 800 venues across America including world famous venues like the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., Troubadour in Los Angeles, Metro in Chicago, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, First Avenue/7th St. Entry in Minneapolis, and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
“Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for handouts,” NIVA Board President Dayna Frank told Rolling Stone in a statement. “But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.”
The association's letter asks to ensure that the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program offers more help for businesses that have been completely shut down due to the pandemic. As concert venues were one of the first to be affected by closures due to COVID-19, they also face a difficult path ahead as businesses begin to reopen.
“Our businesses were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and unfortunately, are also likely to be among the last to reopen,” the letter states. “In our present situation, in order to ensure public health, we have no opportunity to generate revenue and we have no work to offer most of our employees.”
NIVA’s requests also include extending the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program until businesses are able to resume normal operations at full legal capacity. Health officials recently cautioned that live music may not return until the fall of 2021. NIVA recognizes the lengthy timeline ahead and included requests to establish a recovery grant fund for concert venues and other shuttered businesses, continued unemployment insurance for contract workers and artists, and various measures of tax relief.
“These entertainment hubs are critical to their local economies and tax bases as employers, tourism destinations, and revenue generators for neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail,” a statement on the association’s website reads.
As concert venues work to form policies that ensure safety upon reopening, NIVA members recognize what’s needed in the short-term to guarantee they open their doors again in the future. “Taken together, these proposals will serve as a vital lifeline for our industry, for our community of employees and artists and for the iconic venues that mean so much to our local communities,” the letter concludes.