After weeks of gridlock, Congress has finally agreed on a new COVID-19 stimulus package in the United States. Along with another round of stimulus checks, the new relief bill also includes aid to independent venues across the country.
The new bill will give some much-needed, and long-awaited, relief to independent music venues who are struggling due to the pandemic.
Obviously, 2020 was not the year anyone had in mind. Along with unemployment reaching an all-time high in the United States, the live music industry took a hard blow as concerts were canceled and venues closed their doors. For some historic venues in both the United States and worldwide, the pandemic has caused them to close their doors permanently.
However, it looks like independent venues in the United States are finally getting some much-needed relief. This week, Congress finally agreed on a new COVID-19 relief package just before Christmas and when unemployment benefits run out for millions.
Along with extending additional unemployment benefits to citizens, millions will also receive another stimulus check of $600. As well, the Save Our Stages Act is included in the new relief package. Although the official language of the relief bill has yet to be released, Congress did give a preview of what the package includes.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have issued a statement, noting that the bill includes “$15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.”
Schumer goes on to say (via Rolling Stone) that this new relief package will give venues the chance to survive.
“I’m especially pleased this bill will provide money for bars and restaurants. And $15 billion in SPA grants for theater operators and small venue operators through the Save Our Stages Act,” he says. “These venues are so important to my state and so many other states across the country. They are the lifeblood of our communities. They were the first to close and will be the last to open. This bill gives them a fighting chance.”
According to the New York Times, the House of Representatives voted on the bill Sunday night while the Senate will most likely vote on Monday. Then, the relief package will be sent to Donald Trump for approval.
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) took to social media to announce the historic breakthrough for Save Our Stages. Dayna Frank, the Board President of the NIVA, praises the news in a statement.
“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country,” Frank says. “And provided us a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the Omnibus COVID-19 Relief Bill. We’re also incredibly grateful that this bill provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Which will help the millions of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic crisis. We urge swift passage of this legislation, which will assist those in the greatest need and ensure the music lives on for generations to come.”
— NIVA | #SaveOurStages (@nivassoc) December 21, 2020
Back in June, Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, FINNEAS and Ozzy Osbourne were among the 600 artists to sign a petition in support of Save Our Stages. The petition eventually led the Save Our Stages Act to be presented in front of Congress.
The inclusion in this new COVID-19 relief package means that many independent venues can stay afloat. As well, some of these funds could support employees who are waiting for touring to resume.
What are your reactions to the Save Our Stages Act being included in the new COVID-19 relief package? Have some of your favorite venues closed their doors permanently this year? Let us know in the comments below.