Cantwell-Supported Provisions in COVID Relief Bill Will Provide Critical Relief to Hard-Hit Music Venues, Theaters, Museums

Without relief, 63% of independently-owned clubs in the state would have to permanently close

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, applauded the inclusion in the COVID relief bill of provisions she pushed for that would provide $15 billion in grants to live venues, movie theaters, and museums in Washington state and across the country. The bill also includes a set aside of $2 billion for entities with no more than 50 employees. This achievement builds off of the Save Our Stages Act, legislation Cantwell cosponsored along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) to provide desperately needed aid to smaller, independent live venues. Without this relief, 63% of Washington state’s independently owned clubs would have to permanently close, according to a survey by the Washington Nightlife Music Association.

Cantwell spoke about the urgent need to provide relief for these venues at a Commerce hearing earlier this month, saying in part: “You’d think this would just be a slam dunk, that we could just, if nothing else, just go ahead and pass legislation. For us, it’s 38,000 Washingtonians, about a $2.4 billion music industry overall. So we don't want to see permanent closure, because it's very hard to start these again… We have got to get our colleagues to understand, we need to act now on this legislation.” Video from the hearing is HERE.

Steven Severin, the President of the Washington Nightlife Music Association (WANMA), said: “This is a huge win for us. The fact that nobody knew our names or the phrase ‘Independent Venues’ and then you have people like Sen. Cantwell talk about WANMA and Save Our Stages in a D.C. hearing?... I’m ecstatic. I’m in tears. I’m exhausted. I’m grateful. I watched a few dozen people make a full time job with no payment to make this happen. That’s some serious dedication, passion, and fight to Save Our Stages so we can get back to doing what we do. This allows us to help the entire ecosystem of the music industry.”

Specifically, Section 324 of the COVID relief bill, Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators:

  • Authorizes $15 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to eligible live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, or talent representatives who demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in revenues.
  • Sets aside $2 billion for eligible entities that employ 50 or fewer full-time employees.
  • Allows SBA to make an initial grant of up to $10 million dollars to an eligible person or entity and a supplemental grant that is equal to 50 percent of the initial grant.
  • Directs the SBA to award grants only to eligible entities that have faced 90 percent or greater revenue loss in the first two weeks, and only to eligible entities that have faced 70 percent or greater revenue loss in the two weeks after that. After the first month, grants can be awarded to all other eligible entities.
  • Specifies that grants will be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.
  • Requires the SBA Administrator to conduct increased oversight of eligible persons and entities receiving these grants.

Video of Senator Cantwell speaking about the need to help live venues at a hearing this month is HERE, and audio is HERE. A transcript of her Q&A with witnesses is HERE.