music venue niva
[Photo by: Joseph Pearson/Unsplash]

Business owners and employees across the world have been navigating the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has put many out of work. Venues are no different as shows have been canceled and postponed since March.

Now, with 90% of independent venues fearing they’ll never reopen if the shutdown continues past 6 months, artists such as Dave Grohl and Billie Eilish are banding together with the National Independent Venue Association to petition Congress.

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In late April, more than 800 music venues joined together to form NIVA and request financial assistance while remaining closed. Some iconic venues include World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York and Troubadour in Los Angeles, the latter of whom also launched a GoFundMe to navigate the closure.

With the announcement of their formation, the venues sent a letter directed at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In it, the included a list of requests to ease the financial burden they were facing as a result of the shutdowns.

In May, NIVA turned to the public for help. The venues asked music fans to send their local government representative a letter encouraging a bailout plan for financial assistance while venues remain closed. The initiative is still active, and you can send a pre-written letter here.

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Now, NIVA has penned a letter to Congress and recruited 600 well-known and rising artists. In addition to Grohl and Eilish, Lady Gaga, Kacey Musgraves, St. Vincent, Alice Cooper, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, Led Zeppelin, Queens Of The Stone Age, Steve Aoki, Ozzy Osbourne, Trent Reznor, Jack Black, John Mayer, FINNEAS, Portugal. The Man, Jimmy Eat World, Kesha and Soccer Mommy have signed.

Afterlife, Can’t Swim, Being As An Ocean, Chapel, The Almost, Citizen, Born Of Osiris, the Aquabats, Counterparts, Crown The Empire, Ash Costello, August Burns Red, Broadside, the Early November, Grayscale, Highly Suspect, Miss May I, the Devil Wears Prada and Underoath also signed.

Industry executives such as Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame President Greg Harris, Recording Academy President Harvey Mason Jr. and Academy Of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside are also among the signatures.

You can read the full letter to Congress below and get more information here.

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Artists’ Letter to Congress #saveourstages #niva

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We, the undersigned artists, respectfully submit this letter in support of NIVA’s request for federal assistance for independent music venues and promoters across the United States.

We will know America is “back” when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely. The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation’s cultural and economic fabric. In fact, 53% of Americans – that’s 172 million of us – attended a concert last year.

Read more: Here’s how over 800 music venues are joining together as NIVA for financial help

We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America’s largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe. All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighborhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions.

Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.

Read more: Here’s how you can help music venues that are financially struggling with NIVA

We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating.

Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them.

With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages.