AUSTIN (KXAN) — Live music venues have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic – but some much-needed relief is on the way.

Starting Thursday, venues can apply for federal aid through the Save Our Stages Act, which will provide $16 billion to venues across the country.

On Wednesday morning, Sen. John Cornyn, who introduced the bipartisan bill along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, spoke about the impact of the grant money during a roundtable discussion with venue owners and artists.

“The economic consequences to the pandemic have been devastating and no more so than in the live music venues, hospitality industry and the like,” he said.

“Our industry has been given a lifeline and is planning for the future,” said Edwin Cabaniss, owner of the Kessler Theater and the Heights Theater.

The Save Our Stages Act established the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, from which grants will be available from Thursday.

Recipients can use the funds to pay for costs such as their mortgage or rent, utilities, employee payment and taxes.

According to the Music Venue Alliance Texas, 800 venues had fewer than 10 employees before the pandemic began in March 2020 – and between 30% and 40% of those businesses will remain closed, it projects.