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U.S. Venues Feel “Stressed” as Essential Government Funding Fails to be Released

Rachel Guttman

Predictions have come out that about 90% of US venues stand to be completely lost without promised government funding, with an estimated 300 venues already closed in the last 14 months. US grassroots music venues specifically were supposed to receive billions of dollars of emergency government funding in order to rescue them from closure and give them the opportunity to reopen after the pandemic.

Venues spent the majority of last year pleading with the government for support before Congress passed the #SaveOurStages bill in December 2020. The purpose of this bill was to allow businesses such as independent venues to receive a $16 billion emergency relief grant fund. Five months later, only a small portion of the rescue money has begun to be distributed. This money was needed by small venues urgently and a lot of the venues have been without revenue since around March 2020.

The money is supposed to come as a grant handed out by the Small Businesses Administration. Within four and a half hours of applications opening up, they had to shut it down as a result of technical difficulties. It then reopened around three weeks after the technical issues and around 11,000 business applied. Up until last week, not one cent was released to the businesses.

Thankfully, these venues are now opening back up for business after the COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. However, some independent venues cannot even afford to open back up, hire employees, and put down deposits for bands. This is a real problem faced by many smaller venues throughout the US currently and can be resolved if the money is released soon. Losing these venues would be devastating to the music scene overall and especially on local economies.

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