Concert Industry Reacts to Passage of Save Our Stages With Cautious Glee

Jem Aswad
·4-min read

T​he Save Our Stages Act — sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Senate, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) in the House and championed by Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with 230 bipartisan cosponsors in Congress — passed late Monday night as part of the government’s larger COVID-19 Relief Bill. The act will bring approximately $10 billion in relief to America’s independent concert venues — not the ones owned by public or large companies — that have been mostly shuttered by the pandemic since mid-March.

While the act is not a cure-all, it provides much-needed relief to venues, most of which haven’t received federal aid since PPP loans back in the spring (if they received those at all).

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“This is the lifeline our industry so desperately needs to emerge from a devastating year,” said Dayna Frank, Owner & CEO, First Avenue Productions and Board President of the National Independent Venue Assn. “Without independent venues and promoters across the country working to engage their communities, staff, and artists, our voices would not have been heard – we are thankful for those tireless efforts. Careers came to a standstill overnight, and people continue to face personal hardships, which is why legislation like this and extending Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is essential. Our immense gratitude goes, in particular, to Senator Klobuchar, Senator Cornyn, and Senator Schumer, for securing the future of independent venues and promoters for generations to come.”

Tom DeGeorge of the Crowbar in Tampa, Fla., tells Variety of the relief aid, “It will help a lot. I will stay focused along with our [NIVA] group, because we are not done yet. We must focus on implementation and outreach to make sure every venue that needs it gets this SOS life preserver. I’m so thankful to have been a small part of this history-making bill: It is possible to have the worst and best year of your life all at once.”

Jen Lyon, a New York-based promoter and co-chair of the New York NIVA chapter, said, “This is a huge relief for our industry and an important acknowledgment from our Federal Government of the value of arts and culture. We have been shuttered for 10 months and are in a precarious place as of today. We ask New York State to help us with a fund that they can implement quickly so we can get through until the federal help arrives.”

NYIVA co-chair Justin Kantor, who runs New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, added, “The passing of Save Our Stages will have an immensely positive impact on the industry and has shown the commitment Senator Schumer and colleagues have for our nation’s venues and our national culture fabric. It is still important that Governor Cuomo takes this into consideration as well. New York venues still need extra support from the state to help with the tremendous financial burden placed on our cherished performance spaces.”

In a collective statement, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), SAG-AFTRA, and Songwriters of North America (SONA) said:

“This legislation is a much-needed lifeline for so many in the music industry who have faced loss and uncertainty for far too long through no fault of their own. We are very grateful for the extension of vital CARES Act benefits including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and the inclusion of the Save Our Stages Act, which will make billions of dollars in grants available to venues and live entertainment workers who have been unable to do their jobs for months. We are also thrilled by the inclusion of a dedicated $100 weekly benefit for mixed earners. Simply put, these relief provisions will save lives and livelihoods, and they are a substantial step on the road to recovery.

“We also welcome the inclusion of consensus-driven intellectual property reforms in the omnibus bill. The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act and Protect Lawful Streaming Act (PLSA) will strengthen creators’ ability to protect their works against infringement online, and promote a safer, fairer digital environment, which are particularly needed as the arts struggle to survive the pandemic. We look forward to continuing our work to provide greater relief for the American creative community.”

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