Welch Introduces Bill to Aid Local Music Venues Hit Hard by the Pandemic
WASHINGTON – Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Monday introduced the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act, a bill to provide six months of financial support to keep independent live music venues afloat through the coronavirus pandemic. Live music venues are critical to downtowns and communities across the country because they so often serve as a central meeting place for friends and neighbors to relax and enjoy good music. Due to the pandemic, live music venues will likely be the last places to reopen, making it difficult to survive during this unprecedented time.
“Independent live music and entertainment venues help make Vermont such a special place to live,” said Welch. “Any music fan or performer knows that a livestream is just not the same as a live concert. Unfortunately, the PPP and other federal aid programs simply do not work for live music venues that cannot reopen until we stop virus transmission. We need to make sure they get the support they need to survive the pandemic so they are ready to host all of us at a show in the future.”
“The SOS Act provides a critical lifeline to the independent performing arts venues and promoters throughout the country. Without it, the future is bleak for institutions like Higher Ground that, for 22 years, have provided a vital platform for artists and audiences,” said Alex Crothers, founder and co-owner of Higher Ground in Burlington, and member of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). “The hard truth is that your favorite theatre, club, arena, or ballroom won’t be active again until there’s an effective therapy for Covid-19, and that’s a long road. I’m immensely grateful to Congressman Welch for his support of this vital legislation.”
“Independent venues helped me become the artist I am today,” said Grace Potter. “Without these spaces for cultural and community gathering, the country’s music scene will be bleak. Concert venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. I applaud Congressman Welch’s support of this important legislation that will be critical in helping these cultural institutions survive.”
“Without emergency federal assistance, our $10 billion industry’s collapse is imminent,” said Adam Hartke, co-chair of NIVA’s Advocacy Committee and president of Hartke Presents. “We thank Rep. Welch for his leadership in the Save Our Stages Act. We need Congress to pass Save Our Stages Act or the RESTART Act before the August recess or there won’t be in industry left to save in the fall. It’s that dire.”
The SOS Act (H.R. 7806) is bipartisan and bicameral. It would:
- Authorize the appropriation of $10 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) run live music venue grant program.
- 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.
- 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.