The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has spent the better part of the COVID-19 crisis advocating for the government to provide financial assistance to U.S. cultural institutions. As Congress and the White House have failed to reach an agreement on the Save Our Stages Act, the nonprofit organization has raised concerns once again with a new statement.
Released on October 6th, the open letter written by NIVA Director of Communications Audrey Fix Schaefer warns of imminent and irreparable damage to live entertainment in the absence of lawmaker aid. “We have been sounding the alarm since April that if our members don’t get emergency assistance, they will go under forever — and it’s happening,” it begins. “This is real. We need help. We urge Congress and the White House to continue negotiations and reach a deal quickly or there will be a mass collapse of this industry.”
“The Save Our Stages Act has already passed the House and has strong bipartisan support with more than 160 Congresspeople cosponsoring because they know independent venues can be part of our country’s economic renewal once it’s safe to welcome people back – if our venues can survive this pandemic,” the statement goes on. “We’re also hoping for the sake of our furloughed employees that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be extended, as people are suffering through no fault of their own.”
Compared to other countries, the U.S. has arguably lagged in providing aid to live music brands amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the U.K. – which has been criticized for leaving nightlife to “slip through the cracks” by the Night Time Industries Association – set aside £500 million of their £1.57 billion arts relief package specifically for venues and other music brands. Meanwhile in Germany, the Berlin senate recently awarded 40 venues €10,000 apiece for the city’s first-ever TAG DER CLUBKULTUR (“day of club culture” in English).
A template to write legislators in support of the Save Our Stages Act can be found along with other resources on the National Independent Venues Association website.