New York Independent Venue Association Urges Allocation Of Relief By State Government

Courtesy NYIVA
The New York Independent Venue Association is fighting for state and local relief for independent venues in the Empire State.

Even as federal legislation providing additional pandemic relief to struggling independent venues has stalled in Congress, states and municipalities across the country – from San Francisco to Nashville to St. Paul to the state of Oregon – have allocated funding for establishments within their borders.

But, as the New York Independent Venue Association (NYIVA) continues to publicize, New York state doesn’t fall into that category. And, in at least one respect, there’s an urgent timeline: The Empire State has yet to publicly allocate $5 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) it received under the March CARES Act, which it must do by the end of 2020.

The portion of that that the NYIVA wishes to secure for New York’s music and comedy clubs – a meager $75 million – would be game-changing as venues stare down more months of closure and financial hardship.

“Other states and localities are more responsive to the needs of independent arts and culture venues and show a greater understanding of the specific struggles of our industry’s situation,” said NYIVA co-chair Jen Lyon, who explained that state-level funding could make the difference for cash-strapped venues, “many of which are scheduled to close in the next few months.”

It’s just the beginning of a longer journey, of course.

“We are asking the state for each venue to cover five months of operating expenses,” Lyon said. “With this amount we are able to create a path and plan to stay open long enough to then find solutions for opening later in 2021.”

“We need the government to work with us on reopening plans that are sustainable, creating regulations and oversight that are competent and realistic,” Lyon said. “The state needs to become our partner in health and safety. We all need to be on the same page so New York State, which has been hit so hard, can rebound and have a thriving arts scene.”

New York state, which received international attention for its severe coronavirus outbreak in March and April and subsequent ability to “bend the curve” of cases, has been among the states hardest hit by the pandemic, ranking first in coronavirus deaths and second in coronavirus deaths per capita.

The resulting financial turmoil has caused the closure of several hundred restaurants, business and other gathering spaces in New York City alone.

According to municipal data published by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in 2017, the city’s live music venues support 25,500 jobs, $722.8 million in wages, $2.2 billion in economic output and $400 to $500 million in tourism dollars.

Meanwhile, NYIVA estimates the state’s venues have accrued more than $136 million in debt since the pandemic began.