Concert Venues Fear Closure After Six Months Without Funding
The global pandemic has hit the music community hard, with a growing concern about what will happen to many of the venues who would normally be hosting concerts at this time of year. Dayna Frank, the board president of the recently formed National Independent Venue Association, paints a bleak picture if concert venues aren't helped out by government funding.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Frank stated, "We gather people who have a love of music and want to pay for it. That’s all we do. And we don’t have any business right now, only the expenses. In surveys, we’ve found many venues [90% as of May 6th, per a rep] aren’t sure if they can operate beyond six months."
Earlier this week, The Los Angeles Times reported on the difficult road even a legendary venue such as the Troubadour in Los Angeles faces if funding does not come and California's re-opening plan proceeds as expected with live music being among the last things to return. The venue has launched a GoFundMe to help with expenses for the time being.
Frank reveals that while the NIVA foundation was founded on the fly not even a month ago, they've been doing their best to bring the plight of music venues to government's attention. "We’ve been doing a lot of education — talking with a lot of folks in politics just trying to explain what we do," she says. "It is such a specific industry and sometimes you forget how insular or unusual it is because its our daily life. We are explaining what a talent buyer is, a booker, a promoter — and how they all fit together. I’ve been doing a lot of explaining on why the timing of the shutdown literally could not be worse."
Expanding upon that, Frank reveals that many venues will pay their insurance early in the year and use some of the first quarter to spend their money on organizational needs and upkeep, knowing that they can usually predict what their budget will be for the coming year fairly accurately. But with many venues already paying out bonuses, insurance and putting forth money for improvement projects, now all of a sudden the revenue has stopped right as business typically starts to pick up for the year.
Earlier this week, NIVA started a #SaveOurStages letter campaign, urging those who wish to help out to mail their congressional representative. "Just Tuesday, over 24 hours, we had 200,000 messages going to Congress. The hashtag on social media is #SaveOurStages. Senator Cornyn, Senator Carper, Senator Klobuchar, Congressman Cleaver, and Congressman Williams have been amazing champions," revealed Frank.
Speaking about the future of many of these music venues, Frank adds that protecting public health is always the first concern, and many venues were prepared to be out of service for three months, with some in good shape through six months. "But now, is it starting to look like 12 months, 18 months? That’s when the existential crisis ensues," she states. "We all have personal guarantees out on all this debt. We have no corporate parent. If we can’t pay this debt, they take our personal assets. I think that’s a six-month timeline from here. That’s why we are focused on getting federal funding for our businesses that are shuttered with absolutely no way to have income. If we can’t get venues the type of support they need until they can start operating at full capacity, where are the artists going to play? They’re going to get on a bus and have no place to pull over to."
To learn more about the National Independent Venue Association's efforts and how you can help, visit their website here.
30 Rock + Metal Documentaries, Movies + Shows to Binge While Self-Isolating