A new $900 billion bipartisan aid package was finally approved by both the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress. Although details surrounding the specifics of the bill have yet to be disclosed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged in an email that the package does include "$15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions" around the country.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter on Sunday night to announce that the government "secured the Save Our Stages Act for indie music venues, Broadway, comedy clubs, indie movie theaters and more. These are people's jobs and livelihoods and they need this help now."
The exact legislative text is expected to be released some time today, after which both the House and the Senate will have to vote on it.
According to Rolling Stone, the Save Our Stages Act was first introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn back in July. Now part of the new bill, the funding "will allow venues to use federal money to cover things like rent, mortgages, utilities, insurance and other expenses."
Months of nation-wide closures prompted the establishment of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which focuses on helping venue workers dealing with the pandemic. In total, over 3,000 independent music venues, concert promoters, festivals, comedy clubs and performing arts centers are currently represented by NIVA—and the organization will clearly benefit from Congress' latest bill.
Back in June, dozens of artists signed a joint letter to Congress on behalf of NIVA to ask for financial relief. "Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on," reads the letter, which was signed by the likes of Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson and Gary Clark Jr., among other artists. "We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues and R&B. Entertainment is America's largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe."
How far the relief package will go to actually help the myriads of venues that need help stay afloat has yet to be seen, but this is clearly a step in the right direction. For what it's worth, we can't wait to attend our next concert—we'll be screaming at the top of our lungs and dancing like nobody is watching.
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