NIVA Campaigns Congress to Give Independent Music Businesses A Lifeline

The National Independent Venue Association has sent a letter, backed by over 800 venues and promoters, to Congress in an effort to push for federal aid.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a coalition of over 800 independent music venues and promoters, has sent a letter to Congress lobbying for more federal aid during the coronavirus pandemic. While previous initiatives like #BandingTogetherATX tried to mitigate the effect of cancellations and closures on the local level, NIVA hopes to use their combined national effort to push Congress to consider the specific measures that would be needed to keep small music businesses afloat. The letter—which was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senator Chuck Schumer—calls for changes to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (SBA PPP) as well as measures like mortgage and rent forbearance, tax relief, and a business recovery fund. 

“The current programs are designed for businesses that will potentially be able to return to normal business operations in the coming weeks and months. They fail to sustain an industry like ours,” NIVA’s board president Dayna Frank wrote in the letter. “Right now, without your help, thousands of independent venues will not survive to see the day when our doors can open to the public again.”

NIVA was formed by Independent Venue Week and members across 49 states and Washington D.C.—including AdHoc—in order to “fight for the survival of independent venues, their employees, artists, fans and their communities.” Cultural institutions like Arlene’s Grocery in New York City and the Troubadour in Los Angeles are dealing with not only an uncertain future, but also the combined impact of stay-at-home orders, mandated closures, tour cancellations, and ticket refunds. Some analysts project that the live music industry will lose anywhere between $5 billion to $8.9 billion if the rest of 2020 is written off—a cost that small businesses will have trouble absorbing.

The open letter is a stark statement on what we stand to lose if small businesses aren’t helped—not just an estimated direct annual value of $10 billion dollars for local economies, but the very institutions that foster new talent and prop up the music industry’s ecosystem. In their open letter, NIVA also called for national guidelines and resources for safely reopening venues. 

The letter comes as a $480 billion relief plan—which will provide an additional $310 billion for the SBA PPP program—has passed the Senate and been sent to the House of Representatives for approval. In order to help raise awareness of their petition for federal aid, NIVA has launched the #SaveOurStages campaign which is projected to reach their members’ combined audience of 100 million Americans. The campaign is the latest in a series of petitions, on the local and national level, from artists, promoters, venues, and music industry professionals to get Congress to consider the unique position of the music industry.

To learn more about the National Independent Venue Association and become a member for free, visit their website.