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Senator Baldwin Supports Bipartisan Relief Bill for Wisconsin’s Independent Live Music Venues During Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) cosponsored the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act to provide Small Business Administration (SBA) grants for independent live music venue operators affected by COVID-19. These grants would provide six months of financial support to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.

“Wisconsin is home to the World’s Largest Music Festival and many exceptional theaters, concert venues, performing arts centers and places of entertainment. These institutions help our communities thrive and we must ensure they’re around for years to come,” said Senator Baldwin. “Because of the ongoing pandemic, our entertainment venues are really struggling to survive. Our legislation will provide much-needed relief to help Wisconsin’s independent live music venue operators and their workers get through this economic crisis.”

Small live music and entertainment venues have been hard-hit during the coronavirus pandemic, with 90 percent of venue owners, promoters, and bookers reporting they are at risk of closing without additional financial assistance and an estimated $9 billion in losses should ticket sales not resume until 2021. The Save Our Stages Act would: 

  • Narrowly define independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives to prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding;
  • Direct the SBA to make grants to eligible venues equal to the lesser of either 45 percent of operation costs from calendar year 2019 or $12 million;
  • Allow the Small Business Administrator to issue supplemental grants in the future if funding remains available and applicants can demonstrate need;
  • Permit recipients to use grants for costs incurred during the COVID pandemic;
  • Require recipients to return remaining funding after one year from the date of disbursement;
  • Permit recipients to use grants for rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, PPE procurement, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines; and
  • Authorize the appropriation of $10 billion for the grant program.

The Save Our Stages Act is endorsed by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO). This legislation is led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX).