Save Our Stages Act Introduced In Senate By Cornyn And Klobuchar

Courtesy Marushka Media / Rich Fury / Getty Images
– Troubadour
The Troob: Los Angeles’ iconic Troubadour is closed now due to restrictive coronavirus measures, but its booker Amy Madrigali, who formerly worked for the Billions Corporation booking agency, is speaking daily with agents as well as working with the National Independent Venue Association to ensure the venue’s continued success.

The bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, which provides Small Business Administration grants and other relief to independent live music venues, was introduced in the U.S. Senate today (July 22) by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The proposed bill would authorize the appropriation of $10 billion for SBA grants of up to the lesser of 45 percent of operation costs or $12 million of 2019 operational costs.

The bill narrowly defines and includes relief for independent concert promoters, managers and talent agents in addition to venue operators.

Funding, if approved by the Senate, will permit recipients to use grants for rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, PPE procurement, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines, according to the statement.

“Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sen. Klobuchar, the bill’s co-sponsor, added: “Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”

The Save Our Stages Act is endorsed by the National Independent Venues Association and National Independent Talent Organization, both of which rose to the challenge of an industry that’s been largely shut down since mid-March by forming associations to lobby legislators and bring visibility to the independent lifeblood of the live music industry. Both organizations are drumming up support for live businesses as Congress prepares to address a second stimulus bill before it goes on its August recess.

NIVA estimates that without assistance in the shape of such grants and other governmental assistance, as many as 90% of independent music venues could be lost within months thanks to the pandemic and an estimated $9 billion in losses could be incurred if ticket sales don’t resume before 2021.

“Our members told us months ago that if the shutdown lasted six months or longer and there wasn’t federal relief to hold them over, 90% of them would fold permanently,” said Dayna Frank, president of NIVA and CEO First Avenue Productions. “With no revenue and immense overhead, four months in, it’s already happening. The warning light is flashing red and our only hope is for legislation like the Save Our Stages Act or the RESTART Act to be passed into law before Congress goes on August recess. Otherwise, most businesses in this industry will collapse.”

In addition, live music venues support other community businesses including bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and adjacent businesses.

The Save Our Stages is the second legislative proposal to be introduced to Congress in the last week. The RESTART Act, which in part addresses modifications to the PPP program, Spokespersons for NIVA and NITO say the organizations support both bills.

See also: Live Industry Rallies For RESTART Act

“Both of these bills would be incredibly helpful and we are proponents of both,” NIVA spokeswoman Audrey Fix Shaefer told Pollstar immediately after the introduction of the SOS Act was announced. 

“This shows how far we’ve come,” added NITO’s Hank Sacks, an agent at Partisan Arts and NITO vice president. “NITO didn’t even exist four months ago when this all started, and now we have a bill to address our specific needs that is sponsored by two powerful senators on the floor of Congress.

“Passage of this bill would enable the live community to be vibrant and, frankly, to exist through this pandemic. It is recognition that our business and needs are critical and being recognized by our elected officials,” Sacks adds.

“On behalf of our more than 2,000 member venues, promoters and festivals, as well as their employees, artists and local communities who are facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re incredibly grateful to Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar,” said Adam Hartke, co-chair of NIVA’s Advocacy Committee and president of Hartke Presents. “While existing government assistance programs have helped other industries, they weren’t tailored to meet the needs of small businesses like ours that have zero revenue, enormous overhead and no visibility into when we can fully re-open. The Save Our Stages Act will provide the assistance we need to get through the shutdown until we can reopen safely and once again become the economic generators for our communities that we’ve always been.”