Save Our Stages Act

Published on September 13, 2020, 7:55 pm
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Standing alongside fellow Brooklynite Jerry Seinfeld, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pushed a plan, today, to save the many stages of New York. Schumer explained how the stages of New York—from comedy, to music & more—are in real peril amid COVID-19.

These stages have no revenue right now and their live venues are in trouble. Schumer said New York City CANNOT lose live venues, because that is what makes New York “New York”. Schumer pushed to provide federal relief for New York’s live events via the Save Our Stages Act. Schumer explained that the legislation would create a $10 billion Small Business Administration program (SBA) to provide grants of up to $12 million to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to help cover six months of operating expenses and offset the economic impact of COVID-19. Schumer also said New York would see the lion’s share of this federal pot of funds given it is such a central part of the economy, and so he will fight to get it done.

“They say “All the world’s a stage,” but New York City’s are the spotlight, and we have to save them,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Independent venues, like Gotham Comedy Club, performance pubs, concert halls and more are the beating heart of New York City’s cultural life and a driving force of the larger New York economy. These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to reopen.”

Schumer explained, 90% of independent venues report that they will have to close permanently without federal funding, according to a survey of National Independent Venue Association members. Schumer said that the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act is crucial to saving independent venues, like concert halls, theaters, and other places of entertainment, including Gotham Comedy Club and other clubs across the city—from jazz, to performance pubs and more.

“That’s why it’s so important to provide dedicated federal assistance to independent venues so when it is safe, we can gather again for comedy, music, theater and other live performances in venues that have been around for generations. The Save Our Stages Act will help these places keep the lights and the laughs on, and I’ll fight to include this funding in upcoming legislation,” Schumer said.

Schumer explained that live venues are part of one of the hardest hit industries right now. He says they need dedicated assistance for long-term, flexible relief that would be available through the Save our Stages Act. If venues remain closed through 2020, it is estimated that live venues across the country will lose $9 billion in ticket sales alone. Independent venues not only drive economic activity within communities through restaurants, hotels, taxis and other transportation and retail establishments, but live events provide 75% of all artists’ income. Schumer warned that without federal aid, the economic impact of COVID-19 on live venues is insurmountable. And he said, the impact on New York City –without federal help—could be a curtain closer.

“We cannot—and we must not—let the curtain close on New York City’s live venues—I will fight tooth and nail here because the shows must go on,” Schumer added.

According to New York City, the “venues subsector” includes concert and entertainment venues, independent venues, informal cultural and performance spaces—commonly referred to as “do-it-yourself,” or DIY venues. As of 2016, there were 2,400 establishments in this subsector throughout NYC. Notably, Queens’ venues have grown by 10 percent in the last 5 years, in comparison to citywide growth of 4 percent. Venues operating at night generated 19,900 direct jobs, $373 million in wages, and $1.2 billion in direct economic output. But Schumer says as a whole, the numbers are even bigger.

“This issue, saving our stages, these venues—what it really means is multiple billions of dollars and tens-of-thousands of jobs for New York City,” Schumer added.

The bipartisan Save Our Stages Act (S. 4258) would create a new $10 billion Small Business Administration (SBA) program to provide grants of up to $12 million to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to help cover six months of operating expenses and offset the economic impact of COVID-19. These grants can be used for payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities, and personal protective equipment, among other needs. The legislation has 28 bipartisan cosponsors, including Senator Schumer and is supported by countless artists, performers, and industry advocates, including the Foo Fighters, Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, Jimmy Buffett, Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, National Independent Venue Association, Recording Academy, Spotify, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, and many others.

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