The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the revised $2.2 trillion “Heroes Act” coronavirus stimulus package, which includes provisions of the $10 billion bipartisan “Save Our Stages” Act designed to provide financial assistance to independent music and live-entertainment venues across the U.S. However, the Republican-controlled Senate appears unlikely to vote on the latest version unless an agreement is reached between Democrats and the White House.
Below, Justin Brannan, New York City Council Member, District 43, and Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director, NYC Office of Nightlife, a division at The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, urge the Senate to pass “Save Our Stages.” Head here to find out more you can do to support your local music venue and others across the country.
Our greatest comfort as human beings is so often found in public, in the company of others—grabbing a drink with friends, catching some live music, or letting go on the dance floor. For New York City residents, bars, dance clubs, and music venues are homes away from home, celebrations of creativity, and safe harbors of diversity. These venues are essential to the social and economic health and vibrance of our city.
As public servants who began our careers working in the kinds of venues that are now in danger of disappearing completely, we urge Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act. We fear that without federal support we are going to lose the independent venues that are the heart and soul of our city and the backbone of our nightlife economy.
The sobering reality, and global dilemma, is that live music, dance, and performance venues are sustained by gathering. So, while most industries have been afforded lifelines to gradually re-open, these venues have been closed since March, with no opening date in sight.
According to the National Independent Venue Association, which represents almost 2,000 music and performance venues across the country, 90% of independent venues may be forced to close permanently without support from Washington.
As a City Councilman and the Senior Executive Director of New York City’s Office of Nightlife, we know what this means. Live venues are the places where the energy and culture and creativity that define New York City radiates, and they are the livelihood for 200,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.
As the former East Village club owner and a founding member of two New York City hardcore punk bands, we know the human cost. We’ve watched as fear and uncertainty have gripped the DJs and musicians, lighting and sound engineers, security, bar staff, and venue operators, who make this part of our economy function. We know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into running a venue, and we know the people who run venues are fighting for survival as we speak.
This bi-partisan Save Our Stages bill, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, would provide a total of $10 billion in grants, of up to $12 million each, to independent venue