Around Town: Music Venues Call Upon Congress for Relief

Betty Who 10
Betty Who performs at 9:30 Club, a NIVA member, in 2017. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), whose members, employees, artists and local communities are facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, yesterday sent a letter to Washington leadership proposing solutions to address the unique and dire situation facing the industry.

“Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for handouts,” said Dayna Frank, NIVA Board President and owner of First Avenue in Minneapolis. “But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.”

The full text of the letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appears on the NIVA website.

NIVA is comprised of more than 800 of the most influential independent music venues and promoters across 48 states and Washington, D.C. Independent venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and unfortunately, are also likely to be among the last to reopen.

Due to the unique circumstances that have led to the indefinite closure of our industry — resulting in zero revenue for the foreseeable future – NIVA has requested specific funding programs to assist for the duration of the government’s mandatory shutdown. The goal is to enable independent venues to survive the crisis, reopen in the future, and once again contribute to the economic revival of our communities.

It is estimated that for every $1 spent on a ticket at small venues, a total of $12 in economic activity is generated within communities on restaurants, hotels, taxis, and retail establishments. While the independent music venues are small businesses, the estimated direct annual economic impact they bring to local communities is nearly $10 billion.

It will likely take months for venues to resume to their full schedules once they are permitted to reopen, and capacity reductions may be required for safety, NIVA says. NIVA is also seeking national guidelines for large gatherings to occur in a safe manner. Uniformity across the country and throughout the industry will ensure artists can resume a stable tour schedule and fans can come and enjoy shows once again.

For more information, visit NIVA’s website. 

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