In their first at bat in Washington, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO) have hit a home run. Way to go, sluggers!
The two newly-created organizations have gotten two senior Senators to come together to co-sponsor the Save Our Stages Act. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)—two of the good guys–will be introducing the bill to help to protect the live music venues we know are about to be extinct. I haven’t found a bill number yet, but we’ll obviously be following this legislation closely so will get the bill for you when it’s introduced.
Both Senators have been long-time supporters of creators and understand well the economic interdependence between venues and artists. Both Senator Cornyn and Senator Klobuchar were early supporters of the CLASSICS Act to end discrimination against pre-72 artists. Senator Cornyn is a co-sponsor of the CASE Act and we know that Senator Klobuchar is a supporter in her heart and we expect to see her officially come on board soon!
The targeted legislation is intended to provide six months of grant relief to small venues and related fields, capped at $10 billion. The bill also brilliantly addresses helping venues pay for the unfunded mandate of meeting social distancing guidelines which some estimate to be an ongoing hit to operating costs of 20% or more.
According to Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar’s offices, the Save Our Stages Act will:
• Permit recipients to use grants for rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, PPE procurement, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines
• Narrowly define independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives to prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding
• Direct the SBA to make grants to eligible venues equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of operation costs from calendar year 2019 or $12 million
• Allow the Small Business Administrator to issue supplemental grants in the future if funding remains available and applicants can demonstrate need
• Permit recipients to use grants for costs incurred during the COVID pandemic
• Require recipients to return remaining funding after one year from the date of disbursement
• Authorize the appropriation of $10 billion for the grant program
The official statements from Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar:
“Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”
Big thanks to Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar for getting in early on helping preserve the indispensably vital role that small commercial venues play in our culture.