Introduced July 22, the Save Our Stages Act is a bipartisan U.S. Senate effort to support independent music venues; On July 30, Gainesville music outlets are pushing to keep the music on.
With support from National Independent Venue Association members and supporters, the Florida music scene is spreading #saveFLstages and #saveourstages to spread awareness as well as to notify Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about the bill.
Ninety percent of independent venues report they will close permanently without financial assistance this year, according to a NIVA member survey. The bill, spearheaded by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, aims to give Small Business Administration grants to venues at risk from COVID-19 pandemic closures. It plans to direct “grants to eligible venues equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of operation costs from calendar year 2019 or $12 million” as well as other specificities according to Klobuchar’s senate website.
"These venues are the lifeblood of the local music scene and what we do at Swamp [Records]," said Heather Bushman, a 19-year-old UF journalism sophomore and branding member of Swamp Records, a local student-run music label. "Without them, our artists aren't playing shows, and our members aren't getting that invaluable real-world experience in promoting and marketing. The Save Our Stage bill means so much to us because, in aiding these local venues, it'd essentially be preserving our organization."
On the Florida front, Rubio’s co-signing of the bill will help propel it forward before the August recess of Congress, as he is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee.
“Marco Rubio is the ultimate decision maker in Washington on whether independent venues across Florida and the whole U.S. will once again open once the pandemic is over,” said Pat Lavery, facility and events manager of High Dive, one of Gainesville’s music venues affected by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. “As Chair of the Small Business Committee he must back Save Our Stages or Restart Act to give us a fighting chance.”
Created and sponsored in May by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett and Indiana Sen. Todd Young, the Restart Act would give businesses that took out Paycheck Protection Program loans more flexibility, longer loan times and loan forgiveness. This bill would also help support music venues across the country.
“PPP was a good program for many industries, but for music venues, which were completely shuttered for the last 4 months and many more to come, this plan, Rubio’s plan, will not work,” Lavery said. “We need every live music lover in Florida to post, write and call Rubio and tell him to support Save our Stages and Restart Act today.”