Among the industries hit hardest by the pandemic has been performance venues like theaters and nightclubs, but help is on the way after President Donald Trump signed the new relief bill.
Audrey Schaefer, who has worked locally with venues like the 9:30 Club for years has been leading the national fight to get Congress to “save our stages.”
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“This has been the most dire time in the history of independent venues,” she said.
When the pandemic hit, venues that depended on live audiences were the first to close, and they’ll be the last to reopen.
“More than 95% of employees in this line of business sadly had to be furloughed,” Schaefer said.
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“Hundreds of venues have gone under through no fault of their own,” she said.
While help is finally on the way, it’s too late for some clubs. Schaefer hopes the congressional relief package will be enough to keep thousands of independent venues alive.
Venues will be eligible for up to $10 million in relief based on their past revenues. The grants will be administered by the Small Business Administration.
Scahefer said venues will have to be patient as the logistics for applying for and receiving the money are worked out.
“We’ve all been without income 10 months,” she said. “Every day that goes by is painful, but just knowing help is on the way is a relief.”
As for when these stages will see live performances again, Schaefer said that, too, will take a national strategy.
“There’s going to have to be some type of uniformity of reopening across the country for bands to get out of their house, get on the bus and start hitting the road, because they can’t just go to one state and skip six,” she said. “They have to be able to hit every town.”
When that day comes, Schaefer and venues across the country will be ready.
“I cannot wait to be able to welcome everybody back in and do what we do best, and that’s put on shows,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Small Business Administration said they are working as quickly as possible to implement the new relief plan, but there’s no timeline for applications.