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Survey: Most Independent Music Venues May Not Be Able To Survive The Pandemic

According to a survey conducted by the newly formed National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), nearly all of independent music venues may be forced to close their doors for good due to the coronavirus pandemic.

2,000 members from all 50 states took part in the survey, which found that 90% of the venues "will close permanently in a few months without federal funding."

NIVA recently sent a letter calling on Congress to provide assistance in the wake of the "unique and dire situation" facing the industry.

Dayna Frank, NIVA board president and owner of Minneapolis's First Avenue, explained: "Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for handouts. But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.

"Due to the unique circumstances that have led to the indefinite closure of our industry — resulting in zero revenue for the foreseeable future — NIVA has requested specific funding programs to assist for the duration of the government's mandatory shutdown. The goal is to enable independent venues to survive the crisis, reopen in the future, and once again contribute to the economic revival of our communities."

In a fact sheet released on Monday (June 8), NIVA broke down the situation in the following way:

* Independent venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. * 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.

* The ability to open at partial capacity is not economically feasible. Rents, utilities, payroll, taxes, insurance, and artist pay are not on a sliding scale matching the capacity we’re permitted to host. They are fixed costs.

* Due to the national routing of most tours, our industry will not recover until the entire country is open at 100% capacity.NIVAmembers need assistance in order to survive until that day.

Regarding the impact on independent venues, NIVA wrote:

* According to a survey of NIVA members, 90% of independent venues report they will close permanently in a few months without federal funding. Current PPP funding will not solve the crisis. * Pollstar estimates a $9 billion loss in ticket sales alone — not counting food and beverage revenue — if venues remain closed through 2020. * Live events provide 75% of all artists' income. * For every $1 spent on a ticket at small venues, a total of $12 in economic activity is generated within communities on restaurants, hotels, taxis, and retail establishments. * The estimated direct annual economic impact venues bring to local communities is nearly $10 billion.

NIVA is requesting SBA Payment Protection Program loans, tax relief, debt deferral, and a business recovery fund as well as reopening support like guidelines and personal protective equipment (PPE).

A letter that was sent to House of Representative and Senate leaders in late May reads: "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 months away. Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue. The continued closures will impact the hundreds of contractors, suppliers, and business partners that support the live entertainment industry in our states and districts."

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