After months of not doing their jobs as millions lost theirs and collecting a nice paycheck, Congress is finally poised to pass a second COVID stimulus bill. The broad strokes have been covered at length by large news organizations, with the main talking point of the $900 billion package being a $600 stimulus for Americans. However, specifically for the music business that has been often ignored in these discussions, the Save Our Stages Act was finally included and would give $15 billion in relief for struggling music venues, cultural institutions and independent movie theaters, who have also struggled mightily.
“These venues are so important to my state and so many other states across the country,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said, according to Forbes. “They are the lifeblood of our communities. They were the first to close and will be the last to open. This bill gives them a fighting chance.”
Independent music venues have largely shuttered since the pandemic took hold of the US in March. Without an avenue to remain open outdoors, some have closed permanently and this winter looked incredibly bleak without any relief or shows. Most were also not able to take advantage of the March CARES Act, which required companies to keep employees on the payroll to get relief. When a venue is closed, the vast majority of its employees, bartenders, security, sound technicians, light operators etc, are not working.
The SOS act would provide six months of relief to “keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America” according to Consequence Of Sound. It will be used to pay for things like rent, mortgages, utilities, insurance and other expenses.
“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and provided us a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the COVID-19 Relief Bill,” says Dayna Frank, Owner & CEO, First Avenue Productions and Board President of NIVA in a statement. “We’re also incredibly grateful that this bill provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which will help the millions of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic crisis. 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.”
There will be additional money in the relief bill for testing, tracing, broadband access, colleges and schools, rental assistance and more.
Though the bill hasn’t been officially passed, it passed the Senate and has approval from Trump. It is expected to pass later today (Monday, December 21) and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary says stimulus checks will start arriving next week.