According to a new survey of independent music venue owners, 90 percent say they could be forced to close due to COVID-19 without substantial government assistance. The survey comes from the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA), which boasts 2,000 members in all 50 states.

The overwhelming majority of respondents stated that they will be forced to close permanently if the shutdown of live music lasts another six months and they are not given significant aid from the federal government.

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The NIVA, which was formed after the pandemic shut down live music across the country, is asking Congress for an adjustment to the existing Paycheck Protection Program with relief packages specific to independent venues. In order to stay afloat, the association states, proprietors across the country would need the cash equivalent of six months worth of payroll, benefits, rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, and insurance, despite the businesses remaining closed.

Additionally, the NIVA is asking Congress for tailor-made exemptions for venue owners, including loan forgiveness and tax credits related to ticket refunds. These exemptions would also apply to retaining employees, as well as expanding the PPP to cover benefits and compensation for part-time workers, who they say are vital to the live music industry

A group of 150 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to the Senate and House of Representatives last month, asking for these expansions to the PPP. The letter reads, in part,

Live event venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and they are likely to be among the last to reopen. Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be months away. Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue. The continued closures will impact the hundreds of contractors, suppliers, and business partners that support the live entertainment industry in our states and districts.

These venues support the economies of communities across the country, are a crucial component of the music industry’s ecosystem, and serve as incubators and launch pads for the most popular talent in the world. We can provide a vital lifeline for the industry that will help to sustain the iconic venues that are central to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of so many of our communities. This industry is not going to make it without our help.

Live music fans across the country are encouraged by the NIVA to visit the organization’s website to send a letter to their local and state representatives, urging them to support these much-needed expansions.

[H/T Consequence of Sound]