Congress passes Covid-19 relief bill with funding for concert halls

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After a protracted round of negotiations that threatened to derail any financial relief for millions of Americans, Congress passed a new Covid-19 Monday night’s relief bill that will include funding for independent concert halls that have been closed throughout the pandemic. The bill will now move to the White House for President Trump to sign the comprehensive bill, clearing the way for site owners to start asking for financial relief.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement noting that the bill includes “$ 15 billion in funding dedicated to theaters, independent cinemas and cultural institutions”.

“The legislation provides essential assistance to private businesses by providing a subsidy equal to 45% of 2019 gross revenues, with a cap of $ 10 million per entity,” the National Independent Venues Association said in a statement Monday evening after the adoption of the bill. “This grant funding will ensure that recipients can stay afloat until the reopening by helping to cover expenses such as payroll and benefits, rent and mortgage, utilities, insurance, PPE and other ordinary and necessary business expenses. “

Speaking in the Senate, Schumer noted, “I am especially pleased that this bill allocates money to bars and restaurants, and $ 15 billion in SPA grants for theater operators and small theater operators through the Save Our Stages Act. . These places are so important to my state and to many other states across the country. They are the cornerstone of our communities. They were the first to close and will be the last to open. This bill gives them a chance to fight.

“We have secured the Save our steps Acting for independent music venues, Broadway, comedy clubs, independent theaters, and more ”, Schumer wrote on Twitter Sunday night. “These are the jobs and the livelihoods of the people, and they need this help now. I will not stop fighting for them.

Dayna Frank, owner and CEO of First Avenue Productions and president of NIVA, welcomed the deal in a statement. “We are delighted that Congress has heard the call of independent sites being shut down across the country and provided us with a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the Omnibus COVID-19 Relief Bill,” said Frank said. “We are also incredibly grateful that this bill provides pandemic unemployment assistance that will help the millions of people who have lost their jobs without being responsible during this economic crisis. We urge the swift passage of this legislation, which will help those who need it most and ensure that music lasts for generations to come. “

Speaking in the Senate Monday, Amy Klobuchar said the bill would help sites cover six months of expenses to get through what will hopefully be the end of the pandemic. “We very much hope that once summer comes we will see more and more openings because of vaccines due to what I hope will be with the new administration and an increased focus on testing,” a- she declared. “And that we will see more and more rooms open. Grants can be used to cover all of the major costs that sites have to pay to stay in business, including rent and mortgage utilities, employee salaries, major benefits, maintenance costs, state and local taxes. , payments to contractors, purchases of protective equipment.

The deal marks a major and long-awaited milestone for groups like NIVA and the National Independent Talent Organization, which formed during the pandemic to fight on behalf of venues and other businesses affected by the complete shutdown of live music. If this goes as planned, it will likely help countless venues stay afloat until shows and tours can resume. But the inability of Congress to pass any kind of legislation sooner forced many beloved places across the country – like Great Scott in Boston, Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia, Mothlight in Asheville, and Satellite in Los Angeles, among hundreds of others – to shut down for good.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has rocked many industries, the sites find themselves in a particularly perilous situation as many have been unable to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses contained in the CARES Act. , adopted in March. The forgiveness of these loans depended on whether the companies spent 75% of their payroll, but for closed sites there were few or no employees and therefore no payroll to cover. This left sites with no income and huge overheads.

The fight to provide targeted funding to sites gained new momentum in July when Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Save Our Stages law. This bill, which was effectively incorporated into the new bill, will allow sites to use federal money to cover things like rent, mortgages, utilities, insurance and other expenses.

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