NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Music City's Rebound continues to be slow. So slow, many live music venues are worried they will have to close for good -- unless Congress throws them a lifeline.
"Venues are closing every day, for good, permanently," said Joshua Pemberton, the controlling owner of Nashville Underground on Lower Broad.
"From an economic standpoint, I think that everybody’s reached the end of their rope more than once at this point," said Chris Cobb, owner of the fabled Exit/In.
Exit/In has been closed since the pandemic started. They're surviving through the generosity of their regulars and fans. "We’ve been able to piecemeal survival together for these venues. So, a couple of months of money here, and a month worth of money there," he said.
While Nashville Underground has closed their main stage, they are able to serve meals to a reduced capacity of patrons. Because of the smaller revenues, they're limiting their wait staff to just one shift per week.
"We aren’t a corporate entity, we don’t have the wherewithal to get through with this. The government shut us down, the government needs to step up and help," said Pemberton.
Some members of Congress are poised to do just that, through the Save Our Stages Act. "It’s a $15 billion dollar grant program for the entire independent side of the live events industry," said Cobb.
For venues, the federal government will allocate money based on the percentage of revenue you've lost this year. Other facets of the industry -- like agents, managers and stagehands -- can also apply for grant money.
Cobb says the Exit/In is on track to run out of money by January, so grants from Congress would bring some much-needed stability. "We wouldn’t have to keep begging for donations. We’d be able to start thinking about how to safely reopen next year and serve the community," he said.
Pemberton says unless Congress changes their tune, Music City will be a whole lot quieter. "It will be devastating and we will not come out on the other side of this as a nation without this being passed by Congress and ultimately signed into law," said Pemberton.
As Congress debates the passage of a pandemic relief bill, you can support Nashville's independent music venues by donating at MVAN.org.