NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Like other industries, Nashville's independent music venues were forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many relocated or closed altogether, threatening the city's music scene.
But Metro Council Member Jeff Syracuse said the pandemic exacerbated issues that were already a problem.
"Not only can folks not afford to live here anymore, but small businesses also struggle as well," Syracuse said. "A critical aspect of our small business sectors are local independent music venues, and as we've seen, we're going on a very negative trend of losing these venues and once they go away they're not coming back."
That's why he proposed a $300,000 study to identify policies, strategies and tools that would support the livelihood and future of Nashville's music venues.
Funding for the study would rely primarily on funds from the American Rescue Plan. It was approved on March 9 by Metro's COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee. The Nashville Chamber of Commerce would contribute $30,000, and the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation would contribute $10,000.
"So how do we help support our venues when they are renting and being basically booted out? How can we help them with buying property? How can we help them with rent support?" Syracuse said. "Ultimately what this does is help support the working creative class."
This comes as fragile venues are still reeling from the pandemic's aftermath.
"We just did not have the steady stream of patrons coming here and discovering us, so right now we're very much trying to rebuild or recapture what we were doing in 2019 or early 2020," said co-owner of the 5 Spot, Travis Collinsworth.
The potential study is a welcomed opportunity by owners like him.
"We have very much been at the forefront of making Music City, Music City," Collinsworth said.
He said he worried that the city's continued growth may be pushing out legacy venues like his.
"You just go anywhere else and you realize just how fortunate we are here in this town. That is something not to be taken lightly," he said. "Something that we don't want to lose, something I don't want to lose."
Funding for the study now has to go before Metro Council for approval.