How Independent Music Venues Became a Powerful Lobbying Force

A group of venue owners formed in response to the pandemic successfully got a $15 billion support bill passed to help small venues stay afloat during the pandemic.

2 minute read

February 25, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Concert crowd

9089 - Pixabay / Concert crowd

Writing for Bloomberg CityLab, Rebecca Greenwald reports on the Save Our Stages Act, an initiative started by music venue owners that could help prop up independent venues during pandemic closures. Signed into law on December 27, the $15-billion piece of legislation is an unprecedented show of support for arts and culture—"for context, the National Endowment for Arts has awarded a total of around $5.5 billion since its founding in 1965."

Originally proposed by a newly formed nationwide coalition of music venues, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), the Save Our Stages Act recognizes the challenges faced by live entertainment venues, whose expenses to keep shuttered venues alive are putting many of them out of business. Unlike other businesses, federal programs like the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program don't necessarily help music venues. "The program’s mandate to put the majority of funds towards payroll rather than rent, mortgage, utilities and other overhead costs was completely untenable for businesses that weren’t open or operational," writes Greenwald, citing the average rent for independent venues as ranging between $10,000 and $60,000 per month.

Championed by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and co-sponsored by Texas Senator John Cornyn, the Save Our Stages Act focuses on "small business and economic recovery" and marks a "momentous occasion" for the NIVA. The group plans to continue its activism after the pandemic and use their newfound political voice to be "a player in Washington."

Friday, February 12, 2021 in Bloomberg CityLab

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Gravel walkway along lake at Earvin Magic Johnson Park in Los Angeles County.

‘Parks After Dark’ Helps LA County Communities Thrive

Los Angeles County's popular Parks After Dark program continues to serve communities in need and offer multiple important benefits, as documented in a recent UCLA study.

6 seconds ago - UCLA Newsroom

Delivery drone holding a brown paper wrapped box hoveringin air with city in background.

Utah Establishes Air Mobility Framework

The program outlines a statewide approach to delivery drones and other air transportation options.

1 hour ago - PR Newswire

Amtrak train at Union Station with Chicago skyline in background.

St. Paul-to-Chicago Borealis Rail Line Launches

The Amtrak service, 12 years in the making, doubles the number of available trips on the corridor.

2 hours ago - Route Fifty

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.