New HEROES Act Includes Save Our Stages Language

Pelosi and Schumer
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
– Pelosi and Schumer
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speak to the media, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Democrats introduced an updated version of the HEROES Act federal relief package to the House Of Representatives yesterday, which includes language from the Save Our Stages Act.

The Save Our Stages Act was originally introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on July 22 and proposed to provide grants and other forms of relief to live music venues. Similar language was incorporated into the HEROES Act, authorizing $10 billion in grants for live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives. The bill also provides targeted assistance for the restaurant industry (worth $120 billion) and extends the payroll support program for airline industry workers (with $328 billion in aid).

The soonest a vote on the bill could be brought to the House floor for a vote is Thursday,  Oct. 1, though a source told Pollstar the Senate is already working on rewrites, as it would be unlikely to pass with its current price tag of $2.4 trillion. 

Other elements of the bill include changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), federal unemployment benefits being restored to $600 per week until January, a direct relief payment of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent, and a whopping $436 billion for federal assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments to continue efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The full text of the HEROES Act is available here, and summaries provided by the House are available here and here.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for National Independent Venue Association, sent Pollstar the following statement: “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). 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. 

A source told Pollstar that the inclusion of Save Our Stages language will be useful to many in the industry,  but they worry production companies (as the term “producers” in the bill is applied to theatrical producers) and many other small businesses cannot make use of PPP money and will not be helped by this version of the HEROES Act. As an alternative, the source was hopeful language from the RESTART Act would be incorporated into future revisions of the bill.

The U.S. live industry went on Red Alert earlier this month, with more than 1,500 live venues and businesses illuminating their buildings in red to signify the desperate need for federal aid.

Pollstar recently spoke with multiple venue owners who said the need for aid was becoming urgent and, absent of swift government action, venues would soon begin closing or at the very least changing ownership. The need for more federal aid has been a constant concern of the live industry since the aid from the CARES Act began expiring in August.