The Nashville Metro Council has approved $2 million in CARES Act funding for independent music venues.
Independent music venues are considered one of Nashville’s most celebrated attractions. COVID-19 precautions shuttered many venues in early March. All live events in the city were eventually closed in the three months following.
A report from the Tennessee Lookout revealed that 15% of venues would have to close within a month. 38% of indie music venues reported they would face closure within six weeks. This bill passage is the Nashville Metro Council’s third allotment of money from the CARES Act to music venues.
Indie music venues with annual revenue of less than $5 million are eligible for assistance. Venue owners can apply to receive an emergency grant of up to $100,000 for two months of expenses. Expenses that can be covered with the grant include rent, utilities, and insurance payments. CARES Act funds cannot be used to cover payroll expenses for these venues.
“The purpose of these grants is just to keep these doors open, so when we emerge on the other side of COVID-19, this industry will still be alive,” Council Member Courtney Johnston told the Tennessean. This local funding for Nashville’s indie music venues arrives at a time when federal aid is lacking.
The National Independent Venue Association asked Congress to take action weeks ago. The group is seeking a $10 billion Save Our Stages Act to help keep local cultural institutions alive during the pandemic. Some independent venues like Exit/In, 5 Spot and Mercy Lounge have seen a 90% drop in revenue. That’s why another Nashville council CARES Act cash injection will help.
Some venues like Station Inn are turning to streaming their live concerts to help. But streaming only brings in about 12% of their average operating costs. Station Inn Marketing Director Jeff Brown says the bill passing was necessary to preserve his business.
“The bill passing with the city is absolutely necessary for venues like us to stay open and to preserve the culture of live music that draws so many hundreds of thousands of people a year,” he told the Tennessean. “They come for the music, so we must keep the music alive.”
The loss of festivals and live music in 2020 is still having a heavy impact across the globe. Mini-cities spring up around live music festivals to support them. The same can be said of the restaurants, shops, and more than surround live music venues in downtown Nashville. Recovering after the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to take cash injections for the live music industry.