CBS19: Legislation aims to support independent music venues impacted by pandemic

CBS19

A bill before Congress aims to deliver financial support to independent live music venues that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the country, entertainment venues have been experiencing losses and rising debt, and a recent survey found that 90 percent of such venue owners, promoters and bookers report they may permanently close without some kind of financial help.

According to a release, federal response programs like the Paycheck Protection Program were not initially designed for businesses that currently have zero revenue, many part-time employees, and are unlikely to reopen in the near future.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger has co-sponsored the Save Our Stages Act, which was introduced by Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Representatives Peter Welch of Vermont and Roger Williams of Texas in July.

The release says this ill would provide federal grans through the U.S. Small Business Administration to independent live venues operators, promoters and talent representatives, with initial rounds of financial assistance covering payrolls costs, rent, utilities, maintenance, and personal protective equipment costs incurred between March 1 and Dec. 31 of this year.

“Central Virginia’s independent live music venues make our region a vibrant and stronger place to live, and they provide a tremendous economic benefit to surrounding small businesses, hotels, and restaurants. Many of these businesses were already operating on razor-thin margins, and the pandemic has seriously jeopardized their survival, particularly as live venues could be among the last places to reopen,” said Spanberger. “The loss of these iconic establishments would be devastating for our communities and our economy, and that’s why I’m supporting the Save Our Stages Act. This bipartisan legislation recognizes independent venues’ stress amid the COVID-10 pandemic and takes concrete actions to make sure they can remain anchors of our region’s economy for years to come.”

The release says the SOS Act would allow for initial grants of up to $12 million and provide a supplemental grant that is equal to 50 percent of the initial grant. That second round of funding could be used for expenses incurred through June 30, 2021.

Under the bill, independent live venue operators, promoters and talent representatives would be narrowly defined to prevent large, international corporations from receiving grant funding; the SBA would be directed to make grants to eligible venues equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of operation costs from calendar year 2019 or $12 million; the SBA would be allowed to issue supplemental grants if funding remains available and applicants can demonstrate need; recipients would be permitted to use the funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic; and recipients would be required to return remaining funding after one year from the date of disbursement.

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