5/22/2020 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – As concert venues around the country have shuttered to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are teaming up with U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and 39 colleagues in calling on Congress to help save locally-owned, independent concert venues – and the hundreds of thousands of employees that staff them – from going out of business.

“Rhode Island is an arts-centric community that is home to many great live, independent music venues of varying sizes and sounds.  They contribute to the fabric of our communities and the economy.  The government askes these venues to do the responsible thing and temporarily shut down.  There is strong, bipartisan consensus that the federal government should now do its part to support these small, independent venues so they don’t go permanently silent.  If only big corporate concert venues can survive this pandemic, it’d be a real blow to the arts, artists, workers, and the community,” said Senator Reed.

“Rhode Island’s vibrant arts scene adds much to our quality of life and to the local economy,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “It’s clear that performance venues will be among the last businesses to be able to reopen, and theaters need additional support if we want them to still be there once the days of social distancing are behind us.”

In a letter to Senate leadership, the bipartisan coalition of U.S. Senators wrote that the live music industry is likely to remain shuttered for months to come.

The 43 Senators noted that live music venues are economic multipliers, writing: “Each year, thousands of independent venues host millions of events, staffed by hundreds of thousands of employees, and attended by hundreds of millions of concertgoers across all walks of life. These entertainment hubs are important economic multipliers for our local economies, generating millions in tax revenue and providing jobs in our communities. The business generated by this industry also supports countless neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail.”

“Unfortunately, even once venues are permitted to reopen, it will take months for the industry to return to usual schedules,” the Senators continued.

The U.S. Senators note that short-term disruption assistance won’t be enough to help independent music venues facing long-term disruption to their businesses and are calling for more support, including tax relief and debt assistance to help these local businesses survive the crisis.

In calling for federal assistance for independent live music venues in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation, the Senators wrote: “Live event venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and they are likely to be among the last to reopen. Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be many months away, if not longer.”

“Without assistance targeted to their unique situation, venues, artists, and our local communities face an unprecedented crisis. We support providing government funding, tax relief measures, and assistance to manage mortgage, rent, and other debt burdens for mom and pop venues across the country.”

“We can provide a vital lifeline for these iconic venues that are so central to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of so many of our communities. This industry is not going to make it without our help.”

In addition to Reed, Whitehouse, Cornyn, and Carper, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators: Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steven Daines (R-MT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Doug Jones (D-AL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The full text of the letter follows:

May 21, 2020

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

We write to bring your attention to challenges facing the live entertainment industry and to ask for targeted legislative action as Congress works on additional economic relief legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live event venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and they are likely to be among the last to reopen. Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be many months away, if not longer. Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue. The continued closures will also impact the numerous contractors, suppliers, and business partners that support the live entertainment industry in our states. 

Each year, thousands of independent venues host millions of events, staffed by hundreds of thousands of employees, and attended by hundreds of millions of concertgoers across all walks of life. These entertainment hubs are important economic multipliers for our local economies, generating millions in tax revenue and providing jobs in our communities. The business generated by this industry also supports countless neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail.

Unfortunately, even once venues are permitted to reopen, it will take months for the industry to return to usual schedules. Tour artists have an intricate and complicated process of planning, scheduling, and tour routing, making a quick restart near impossible. While necessary to prevent the spread of COVID 19, new capacity limitations and other restrictions could inhibit the live entertainment industry’s ability to recover fully for some time. We are concerned that even if these entertainment venues are able to withstand the shutdowns, they will not be economically viable operating at 25 or 50 percent occupancy.

Congress has taken swift action to support the economy, but the programs we have enacted provide little relief to independent venues. Short-term disruption assistance has provided a lifeline for millions of Americans, but businesses that face prolonged closure also need help. Without assistance targeted to their unique situation, venues, artists, and our local communities face an unprecedented crisis. We support providing government funding, tax relief measures, and assistance to manage mortgage, rent, and other debt burdens for mom and pop venues across the country.

These venues support the economies of communities across the country, are a crucial component of the music industry’s ecosystem, and serve as incubators and launch pads for the most popular talent in the world. We can provide a vital lifeline for these iconic venues that are so central to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of so many of our communities. This industry is not going to make it without our help.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with you to provide necessary relief to live venue operators across the country.

Sincerely,