New legislation could help save local music venues struggling through pandemic closures

Posted at 9:28 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 10:00:04-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — While many businesses have reopened with adjustments over the last couple of months, most live performance venues are still at intermission.

A number of venues have closed permanently across the country due to lost revenue, and as one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, local venues are worried they’ll meet the same fate.

“Music venues have been the first to shut down," said Adam Hatton, co-owner of Manchester Music Hall in Lexington. "We’re going to be the last to reopen.”

Hatton said April was projected to be their best month ever, but the pandemic has left the venue empty and quiet.

“Right before April, we unfortunately had to lay off our entire staff, including myself, and that’s been extremely difficult,” he said. “So, we haven’t had an event. We haven’t had staff.”

With no reopening date in sight, there is some hope in the form of two new bills recently introduced by Congress.

Pushed by the National Independent Venue Association, the Save Our Stages Act would establish a grant program for small live venue operators and talent representatives.

The second bill, known as the RESTART Act, extends the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

Both bills would help venues stay afloat until they can one day welcome back music fans.

“A lot of towns in the southeast right now are closing down permanently. That’s what’s going to happen to all of us,” Hatton said. ”Unfortunately, we were all entrepreneurs going into this and we’ve done it on our own. If people want us to keep doing it on our own, we’re going to need a little help right now.”

Hatton added that live venues also have a ripple effect on the local economy because when people come into the area for events, they also spend money at bars, restaurants, and hotels.

Click here to learn more about the new legislation.