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Shuttered venue owners say federal aid could be a curtain raiser
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In the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure is $1.25 billion for concert venues, theaters and other spaces that do live events. That will be added to the $15 billion Congress approved in December for “Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.”
None of that money has been distributed yet. But the fact that it’s been approved has the industry hopeful.
It’s been a whole year since the Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, Arizona, last held a concert. “We’re talking 12 months of 0% revenue,” said Stephen Chilton, who owns the rock ’n’ roll club.
He said he’s been able to hang on because he knows this help is on the way.
“The fact that there is federal aid coming is what’s allowed venues to take on debt, sell assets, empty retirement accounts,” Chilton said — and convince landlords and creditors to work with them.
Audrey Fix Schaefer at the National Independent Venue Association estimated that several hundred venues have closed permanently. But she said the more than $16 billion in federal aid should help many of the rest survive.
“I can’t wait to get in a room that is so filled with people, to hear a band that they really care about, and have that sense of family and community again,” Schaefer said.
When that will be, she said, depends on this federal aid getting to venues and on the vaccine rollout.
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