As part of the $900 billion relief package, the "Save Our Stages" Act was passed by Congress in a bipartisan agreement on Monday. Cosponsored in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn, it was championed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
The bill will allow entertainment businesses, arts venues, and independent talent agencies to apply for grants from the Small Business Administration. Organizations that have lost a minimum of 25% of their revenue will qualify and receive aid for employee salaries, rent, utilities, etc. Those that have lost more than 90% of their revenue will get to apply first.
The bill will also provide extended unemployment benefits and a second round of Payment Protection Program loans for those businesses demonstrating major economic loss.
This news is a testament to the grassroots efforts of organizations such as the National Independent Venue Association, National Independent Talent Organization, and the Performing Arts Managers & Agents Coalition (PAMAC). These coalitions worked in partnership with organizations such as the League of American Orchestras and the Americans for the Arts to advocate directly with members of Congress to pass the bill.
These organizations advocated for their coalition members and the public to write letters and call their elected officials explaining the devastating effect of the pandemic on the music and arts industry. PAMAC’s change.org petition received over 17,000 signatures and was shared by many stars in the industry. PAMAC also brought together leading musicians of Kentucky with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senior Staff in an August 2020 meeting to discuss the pandemic’s impact on the music industry and to call on the need to support the "Save Our Stages" Act.
"This is a thrilling moment in the history of our nation and our industry," President of Primo Artists and Founder of PAMAC, Charlotte Lee, told The Violin Channel. "Congress has heard our collective voice and stood up to support the arts in an unprecedented way. The passing of the 'Save Our Stages' Act affirms that culture matters to our society. This lifeline is critical for our industry’s survival so we can continue to do the vital work of bringing performing arts to the world."
"These venues are so important to my state and many states across the country — they are the lifeblood of our communities," Senator Schumer said. "They were first to close, and will be the last to open. The bill gives them a fighting chance."