Update: Live Industry Awaits Aid; Venues Go On ‘Red Alert’
By: Francisco Rendon
Update: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate – stood with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and Rev. Moose of the National Association of Independent Venues and others outside of Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 18 to declare his support for the Save Our Stages Act.
Schumer, who is now a cosponsor of the legislation, acknowledged that 90% of independent venues surveyed by NIVA will soon have to close without federal funding, and it is imperative that the Senate act immediately to keep these businesses alive.
Original Story (Aug. 17) – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that the House of Representatives will return to session later this week to vote on an act prohibiting changes to the U.S. Postal Service, which may also mean a lifeline for small businesses across the country, including those in the live industry.
Despite cries that a failure to approve any aid packagewould mean the closure of thousands of live businessesacross the U.S., the House of Representatives and Senate officially went on recess Aug. 14, a major concern to all hopeful that a deal would be finished before September.
Sources tell Pollstar that while negotiations are ongoing between Republican and Democrat leaders behind closed doors, political posturing and gamesmanship have dominated discussions, and the two parties remain in disagreement over how much money should be provided by the federal government to state and local governments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Speaker Pelosi announced in a statement on Aug. 16 that because of her concerns about changes to the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the November Election, she is calling the House back to session this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) “Delivering for America Act.”
Sources tell Pollstar a bill dealing with only the USPS is unlikely to pass, and it is possible that the bill will be modified to include funding for schools and small businesses and Enhanced Unemployment Insurance. Republican and Democratic bills including various items from previously discussed bills like the HEALS Act and the HEROS Act are expected to be submitted in the coming week. The live industry’s main hope seems to be that language from the RESTART Act, the first bill to garner major support from the industry’s developing advocacy organizations, will be included in the legislation to be voted on.
A representative of the National Independent Venue Association told Pollstar that relief provided by the RESTART Act and the Save Our Stages Act is crucial to the survival of independent venues and promoters across the U.S.
To demonstrate the urgency of the situation, the U.K.-born #WeMakeEvents movement is organizing a North American day of action on Aug. 27 from 9 p.m. to midnight, when 1,500 venues will all be lit in red. The red lighting signifies that the industry is on red alert for its survival, organizers told Pollstar. #WeMakeEvents organized a similar rally in the U.K. earlier this month, when 700 buildings were lit in red.Red Alert
“This is an important cause that, if not acted upon immediately, could result in the complete collapse of our industry and the workers who make it possible,” Brad Nelms, director of #We Make Events North America, said in a statement. “The results from the UK efforts were outstanding. We’re hoping that we can generate at least double the participation to demonstrate how much impact this shutdown has had and will continue to have. PLEASE share this message far and wide, and join in by lighting your house red and posting it on social media. This is our opportunity to show the world the scale of what it really takes to make events possible.”
Live industry professionals seeking to participate in the Red Alert Day Of Action can contact #WeMakeEvents at WeMakeEventsNorthAmerica@Gmail.com.
The need for federal relief is an issue that has galvanized every part of the live entertainment business, as 600 artists signed a letter to Congress in June supporting NIVA’s request for aid for independent music venues and promoters.