AUSTIN (KXAN) — Financial help could soon be on the way for independent music venues forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Save Our Stages Act, introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would make $10 billion in grants available through the Small Business Administration.
The funds could be used for venues to cover rent, administrative costs, and expenses required to meet state, local or federal social distancing guidelines.
“The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic,” Cornyn said in a statement.
The legislation, according to a press release, would prevent large corporations from receiving grant funds. Eligible venues will have access to the lesser of 45% of operations costs from 2019 or $12 million.
The National Independent Venue Association said 90% of its members surveyed would permanently close if “the shutdown lasts six months or more and there’s not federal assistance.”
NIVA was established in April to help independent venues struggling during the pandemic. Now, the organization has more than 2,000 members and has sent 1 million emails to members of Congress.
“It’s not possible to continue to exist if we don’t get federal help,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA communications director.
“The story is the same in every city in the country from New York to LA and everywhere in between,” said Austen Bailey, lead talent buyer for Mohawk Austin, a live music venue downtown. “You take us away and you’re going to have a lot different looking city here in the next 6-8 months.”
The Save Our Stages Act is separate from a larger wrestling match in Congress over another round of pandemic relief funding. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said “hell no” when asked whether he’ll support a $1 trillion relief package that’s currently on the table. Cruz’s office did not return a request for comment on whether or not he supports the Save Our Stages Act.