Local independent venues join forces with 'Save Our Stages' legislation

Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 19:39:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The COVID-19 pandemic has laid off millions of people including Nashville's entertainment industry, which has taken a big hit. But after months of canceled shows, they're ready to get back to work and a local group is asking the federal government for more help.

"We’re already starting to see venues that are closing down and not be able to reopen ever if we don’t get some kind of federal support," said Luke Watson, co-owner of Third Coast Comedy Club.

Watson says the Third Coast Comedy Club has been closed since March. He said he tried re-opening during phase three but it was difficult.

A bi-partisan bill in Congress called Save Our Stages Act aims to help independent entertainment venues stay alive.

Watson says small venues and performing arts centers were the first to close and will be the last to re-open.

If passed, the bill would provide six months of Small Business Administration grants to qualifying independent venues. The financial support to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center has also been closed since March and says these loans will help bring life performances back hopefully next year.

"We have so many COVID related cost; mask and ventilation and hand sanitizers and different things that we’re doing to make our venues safe but without the funds of ticket sales it’s difficult to keep our organizations going," said TPAC President Jennifer Turner.

The Save Our Stages Act is endorsed by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and the National Independent Talent Organization (NITO).