After months of lobbying, negotiating, false hope, and the threat of it all going up in smoke, both houses of Congress passed the Save Our Stages Act as part of a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package on Monday night. The handiwork of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Save Our Stages will provide $15 billion in non-repayable grants to live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
Of the total $15 billion allocated for the arts, $10 billion is earmarked for live venues. Now that the bill has passed and its specific language is known, NIVA’s 3,000 member businesses will begin the process of applying for much-needed federal assistance grants.
According to NIVA, the COVID-19 relief bill will provide a grant equal to 45% of gross revenue from 2019 with a cap of $10 million per entity. These grants can only be used to pay operating costs such as payroll and benefits, rent and mortgage, utilities, insurance, PPE, and other necessities. The grant money is not just limited to venues, as event promoters and producers, booking agents, and managers can also apply for assistance.
Dayna Frank, owner and CEO of First Avenue Productions and board president of NIVA, said in a statement,
This is the lifeline our industry so desperately needs to emerge from a devastating year. 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.
Even as Congress announces this next round of stimulus, the reality is that it may take weeks or even months for most venues to receive a check. That is why NIVA is continuing to raise money for its Emergency Relief Fund which assists venues at the greatest risk of closing permanently. While the passage of Save Our Stages is welcome news, the reality is that venues across the United States still hang perilously in the balance.
In addition to the aid for venues, the new relief package will also include a $600 stimulus check sent to every adult and an additional $600 for each of their dependents. The total $900 billion stimulus effort will also include $300 a week in unemployment insurance for those out of work including over 100,000 music industry professionals.
To learn more about what’s next for NIVA and how to continue to support independent venues visit their website.
On Saturday, December 26th, NIVA‘s Dayna Frank and Dave Weingarden will participate alongside 50+ musical artists in Georgia Comes Alive, a one-day virtual music festival aimed at promoting voter participation in the upcoming Georgia runoff elections by supporting local grassroots organizations, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and CivicGeorgia. Donate any amount to the cause GeorgiaComesAlive.com to receive a stream link on the day of the show (12/26). You can also enter to win exclusive prizes from GCA artists like a guitar signed and played by Bob Weir here. See below for a full list of performers.