Since live music has been shut down almost entirely in the U.S. due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, venues are struggling to stay afloat. Even though two vaccines have now gained emergency authorization for use in the country, the fight is still far from over.
Thankfully, through the help of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), the Save Our Stages Act was included in the latest COVID-19 relief bill. With its passing, $15 billion will be set aside for independent venues around the country. The bipartisan act was sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Amy Klobuchar as well as Representatives Peter Welch and Roger Williams.
In addition to music, the bill also supports the visual arts with funding for movie theaters and museums. In an interview with Variety, Senator Klobuchar explained some of the finer points behind the act and stated how much money the venues would receive.
“…It’s still our original formula of 47% of revenue from the year before that goes out in the form of a grant,” said Klobuchar. “It still has the requirement to show that you’re a venue, that you applied to the Small Business Association, and in the month when they can apply, over the first two weeks, people can apply who have lost over 90% of their revenue over last year, and in the second two weeks, over 70%.”
On Twitter, the Senator also shared a ten-minute video of her latest speech on the Senate floor addressing the act which she calls “a lifeline for small entertainment venues across the country.”
Today, I spoke on the Senate Floor about my bipartisan Save Our Stages legislation being included in the coronavirus relief package:
We did not want to be the Congress that lets the music die. We did want this to be the year that we let our cultural icons die. And we didn’t. pic.twitter.com/t25nLEpJaK
— Senator Amy Klobuchar (@SenAmyKlobuchar) December 21, 2020
A Look Backstage
NIVA was formed in response to the worldwide live music shutdown caused by the pandemic. It includes members from over 3,000 venues in all 50 states sharing a common goal of assisting the independent venues affected by the shutdown.
Before the bill was voted on, NIVA launched informational campaigns encouraging music fans to reach out to lawmakers to help get Save Our Stages passed. They provide a wealth of information surrounding the problems venues are facing on their website and social media accounts, produce open letters to lawmakers, and even featured a template that helps users send a letter to their state representatives, as the procedure can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the process. After the passing of the bill, the organization shared that over 2.1 million letters were sent to officials and that each of the 535 members of Congress were contacted.
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, back in September NIVA partnered with YouTube for an official channel dedicated to telling the story behind the fight. Since then, they have over 20,000 subscribers and have shared videos featuring celebrities and artists like James Murphy, Sarah Silverman, Willie Nelson, Katy Perry, MGMT and Bob Weir.