90% Of Independent Music Venues Could Close Forever According To NIVA
The very sad aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis is still unfolding: NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association, has made public a survey of independent concert venue owners in America. And the results are in, 90% of independent music venues, which include nearly 2,000 members (owners and concert promoters from all 50 states) said that they expect to shut down permanently in a few months if no federal funding becomes available.
‘Current PPP (Payroll Protection Program) funding will not solve the crisis,’ NIVA said in the report. ‘The goal is to urge support for the Restart Act in Congress,’ along with ‘other like-minded proposals that tailor the PPP program to work for shuttered businesses’ that ‘have zero revenue, high overhead and no clear timeline for reopening.’ ‘The Restart Act would finance six months’ worth of payroll, benefits and fixed operating costs; permit flexible use of loan proceeds and loan forgiveness; expands eligibility to small businesses with a good deal of part-time employees; and implement a seven-year payback schedule, where principal payments wouldn’t be due for two years and interest payments would be deferred for one year.’
In Los Angeles, every single independent venue has launched a GoFundMe campaign, from the Troubadour to the Bootleg theater and the Hi Hat, in an attempt to raise enough money to survive this crisis, but you have to wonder how long can they do that? Plenty of artists have supported local independent venues while promoting the #SaveOurStages hashtag, but it won’t be enough. ‘Independent venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,’ declared NIVA. ‘Venues have zero revenue, but obligations like mortgage/rent, bills, loans, taxes, and insurance continue. We have no work to offer our employees for the foreseeable future. The shutdown is indefinite and likely to extend into 2021 as our venues are in the last stage of reopening.’
Local venues are essential treasures because they are independent and have no obligation to promote any already famous artists. On the contrary, they give their chance to new and unknown musicians and have already launched the career of many new artists. By definition, independent venues do not depend on Live Nation or AEG, or any big organizations that have money, insurance, and power behind them that would allow them to survive a crisis, they are on their own, and we may lose most of them if the congress doesn’t act on time.
Even with the possibility to reopen next year, the perspective to allow something like five-ten people for every 1,000 square feet would not be of any help, because these venues are small by definition. And let’s face it, even a paid live streaming TV channel of the events would not save them, nobody cares enough to pay to watch a live event on a phone. This is beyond sad, we are facing the possibility to see 90% of independent music venues close forever in the months to come if nothing is done to save them.