WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — The pandemic has silenced even Texas’ famous music scene: Austin, known as the “Live Music Capitol of the World.”
But the live music industry ground to a halt when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S. in March.
According to the National Independent Venue Association, hundreds of independent music venues are broke and will close for good if they don’t receive federal help.
Texas Republican Congressman Roger Williams says Austin’s — and America’s — music venues may not survive the pandemic. He, along with Vermont Democrat Peter Welch, introduced the “Save Our Stages Act”, which would provide $10 billion in grants to independent clubs and stages.
“They have no revenue coming in and they have expenses like rent and utilities,” says Williams.
Audrey Fix Shaefer with the National Independent Venue Association says the current federal relief programs don’t help because venues cannot reopen until the virus subsides.
“The intent might be good, and it might work for other industries but it will not work for us,” says Schaefer. “Two more months of loans, we will all go out of business.”
Schaefer says “Save Our Stages” would create an entirely new program where venues can apply for grants based on their financial needs.
“We are at the precipice of disaster. There is no two ways about it. If we don’t get this federal help within a couple of months there will be a massive collapse of this industry,” says Schaefer.
There’s a companion bill in the Senate co-sponsored by Texas Senator John Cornyn.
Schaefer and live music lovers hope that Congress can join the chorus and save live music.