Independent music venues across the country have raised their SOS signal to 11, asking fans and customers to call, write, and email congressional members to encourage legislation to be passed that will help them shut down the pandemic indefinitely to survive.
Katie Tuten is a founding member of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) – an organization created to maintain and maintain the ecosystem of independent venues and live music operators in the United States – and co-owner of Chicago’s beloved The Hideout and the founder of the Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) together with her husband Tim. With these roles, she heads NIVA’s Save Our Stages campaign in Chicago.
“Independent venues are the first to close and the last to open,” said Tuten. “Many of us are so-called super-distressed industries, which can only be opened in phase 5.”
This month, NIVA is asking supporters to contact their representatives to ask them, p. 3814 / HR 7481, the Restart Actto help independent venues survive the pandemic shutdown.
Tuten explained that the current Wage and salary protection program is based on pay slips rather than earnings, which makes it difficult for venues to use. The venue owners are also asking Congress to extend the loans for a longer period.
NIVA has supporters with one just submit letter Legislators partially read: “The PPP and other programs do not work for venues that are fully closed small businesses that need long-term support that offer flexibility in the use of funds due to the high overhead costs. The venues have lost more than 90% in sales and will be closed by 2021 due to security concerns related to large gatherings. Without Congress support, 90% of NIVA’s independent venues across America say they will be forced to close their doors forever. “
In Chicago, independent venue owners have experience fighting a powerful opponent. In 2018, they founded CIVL after the development company Sterling Bay and Live Nation announced a huge entertainment complex – including several venues for live music – as part of the planned development of Lincoln Yards. Owners of Subterranean, Metro, Empty Bottle, Schubas Tavern, Thalia Hall, Sleeping Village, Hideout and others are founding members of CIVL to find out how best to navigate in the unprecedented times.
“What is really cool is that we all teamed up a few years ago to fight the takeover of Live Nation. We all knew each other when COVID arrived,” said Tuten. “We had a big advantage over other cities because we were organized. We had each other’s cell phone numbers. When we were all in a state of shock and panic and thought, “What are we going to do next?” We had each other. “
Tuten added that each venue owner took on one of the many overwhelming tasks – navigating property tax issues, investigating loan application, compiling lists of legislators to contact, etc. – and information with the rest shared the group.
Even if concerns about individual venues continue to arise, the organization is doing everything to support each other. CIVL gathered behind Rosa’s lounge to force the governor’s office to change the language in the first shutdown order to allow streaming from a deserted location so that Rosa’s old school blues musicians can take advantage of modern technology, and continue to do so Earn revenue.
“It wasn’t a big deal for the rest of us, but because it was a big deal for Rosa, we all stood behind her and supported them all. When we went to the governor’s office, it wasn’t just Rosas, we were all together, ”said Tuten, noting that the adjustment had been made and Rosa’s musicians were allowed to stream from the lounge.
Power is in numbers. This is why it is so important for fans of live music, comedy, dance and all performances to contact the legislature to support NIVA and its Save Our Stages campaign.
“To date, we have received a million calls to Congress. And Illinois is proud to have the second most frequent calls. California always beats us because there are so many people in California, but we beat New York. I think the reason is that we are so independent and people know us. We are woven into our community, ”said Tuten.
While the hiding place is closed – and his team is committed to Save Our Stages and calls for the expansion of crucial unemployment benefits for employees on leave – the venue still offers the community a virtual space to meet, for entertainment, games and non-entertainment to enjoy. COVID conversations with Hideout Online.
“We wanted Hideout Online to be a common room. A perfect example of this is ours Veggie bingo“Tuten explained that people meet every Wednesday night through Zoom to play bingo while supporting community gardens across the city.
“It’s great because you can see that the people who play bingo are often people who are alone in a house or where families play. COVID is never mentioned. It is this beautiful relief. I can’t wait until we open up again and see all the people who played bingo together, ”she said.
Robbie Fulks, Helltrap Nightmare, Megan Stalter and Cosmic Country are among the many shows and artists that Hideout customers also entertain via live streams.
“So many people use so much of their creative energy to present something that is unique, different and appealing. I am so overwhelmed because I know that it probably took them 40 hours to produce something that lasts 45 minutes, but they cannot stay because they are naturally creative, ”said Tuten. “It feeds their souls, which in turn feeds ours.”
Independent venues are special. They promote emerging artists by discovering their voices, creating communities and offering people a home away from home. Tuten encourages anyone who has ever been to an independent place – AKA everyone – to go there Nivassoc.org to write to Congress to support Save Our Stages. Other ways to support local venues include buying merch, a contribution to that GoFundMe campaigns for employees who remain committed and of course wear a mask that helps the country be on the right track for a full opening.
“Many thanks to the citizens of Chicago and Illinois for all their support. We can feel love, ”said Tuten. “We all miss so much. We are all social people – that’s why you bartender – that’s why it is particularly difficult for our employees and actors. “
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