As of Sunday, Congress has thankfully reached a deal on a $900 billion stimulus bill that will provide urgent aid to those most affected by the pandemic. The hard-hit music industry has been included in the measure via a designated $15 billion package called the Save Our Stages Act. The bill is expected to officially pass in Congress early this week.
Through the provision, independent music venues and movie theaters—along with similar cultural institutions—will become eligible for grants through the Small Business Administration, with awards of up to $10 million earmarked for six months of payroll, rent and other necessary costs. Venues that have lost more than 90% of their annual revenue will be able to apply in the first two weeks before the process opens up to those who have lost at least 25%.
Since the bill was introduced in July by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX), it has garnered the bipartisan support of 57 co-sponsors in the Senate and over 200 in the House. Even more, Sunday's agreement exceeds the original $10 billion proposal, allowing even more small businesses to apply.
“Independent venues were some of the first establishments to close down and will likely be some of the last to open,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This funding will get small entertainment venues the help they need to make ends meet and serve our communities for generations to come.”
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According to the National Independent Venue Association, which formed in March and represents the interests of more than 3,000 entertainment venues and outlets across the country, 90% of "mom and pop" venues surveyed will close in the absence of federal aid.
“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and provided us a crucial lifeline," NIPAS Board President Dayna Frank wrote in a statement Sunday. "We urge swift passage of this legislation, which will assist those in the greatest need and ensure the music lives on for generations to come.”