Venue Advocacy: From Nothing, NIVA Rises To Fight For The Indies

Courtesy NIVA
– Good Cause
NIVA and YouTube joined to present the three-day Save Our Stages Fest.

Venue Advocacy

From Nothing, NIVA Rises To Fight For The Indies

The National Independent Venue Association became a fixture of the live industry and nationwide coronavirus relief efforts in 2020. But, almost definitionally, its success was never certain.

“There hasn’t been an association of independent venues and promoters in the past, because the very nature of it is to be independent,” said Marauder Group’s Rev. Moose, who co-founded NIVA and is its executive director.

“If one person thinks about an independent venue as a dark rock ’n’ roll club, when another one thinks of it as a storied comedy club and another one thinks of it as an open-air amphitheater, they’re all correct,” Moose said. “The programs that we’re trying to put in place, the entire structure of what we’re building with NIVA and the National Independent Venue Foundation, is to try to assist and be a resource for these vastly different businesses.”

As the coronavirus pandemic arrived in America, Moose leveraged experience from Marauder running Independent Venue Week to set up a “town hall-style phone call” with independent venues to discuss the looming threat. Participants quickly implemented communication and delegation structures for the fledgling organization, which was formalized as NIVA in mid-April.

Since then, NIVA has offered a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal year for the live industry, uniting more than 2,900 independent live entertainment venues and promoters, enlisting artists from Billy Joel to Billie Eilish to raise awareness for its cause, and lobbying Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act, a relief package with more than 210 co-sponsors across the ideological spectrum that was included in the HEROES Act, passed by the House in October. NIVA even produced Save Our Stages Fest, streamed from more than two dozen venues and featuring the likes of Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus and The Roots, in October.

Still, work remains. The HEROES Act languishes in the Senate, and every day brings news of another venue closure.

“The request and plea is the same,” Moose said. “I find it incredibly disheartening that we have so much support, that we were able to build this from nothing, that we have universal positive response, that we have hundreds of supporters within Congress, and yet we’re still asking for the same thing we were asking for eight months ago.”

But, should indies survive — “There is no other option,” Moose said — the sector will emerge stronger than ever.

“It’s more difficult to run a business by yourself,” he said. “Knowing that you have a support network, and knowing that you’re not going through it alone makes it a lot easier.”

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