Save local stages: Concert venue industry urges Congress for COVID-19 relief

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The impact of COVID-19 is closing live music venues across the country.

Chris Bauman with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) said because they depend on large gatherings, concert venues were the first businesses to close and they’ll be the last to reopen.

If music venues don’t receive any economic relief within the next three-to-six months, Chris Bauman of NIVA said 90% of music venues nationwide will go out of business.

Dustin Davidson, bassist for the Grammy-nominated band August Burns Red, argues that the closing of music venues will also hurt the artists that perform there.

“It affects many bands, their crew, local staff,” Davidson said. “Playing shows and going out there and selling merchandise is where bands like us make a living and we’re not able to do that right now.”

Bauman said even though venues have zero revenue, there are still obligations that need to be met, including mortgages and rent. He’s calling upon Congress to step in an help save local stages.

“The Restart Act” would provide long-term assistance and loan forgiveness for music venues across the country. He hopes lawmakers will include it in their next coronavirus relief package.

“That’ll be enough where we can pay our mortgages and we can pay our employees as well,” Bauman said.

House and Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree that they must take action to help save local stages.

“We have an obligation to have a legislative vehicle that is responsive to the economic pain and the jobs crisis and also is responsive to the challenges we still face with the virus,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, said.

“I think that is a place that we should look at to make sure we keep that culture alive,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said.

McCarthy said Congress must find ways to sustain the industry while the nation awaits an effective coronavirus vaccine or treatment.

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