INDIANAPOLIS — Legislators continue to negotiate a stimulus bill that could bring relief to industries reeling from the pandemic. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators proposed a $908 billion plan. Inside it is a portion that will give roughly $15 billion to local independent music and cinema venues.
“We are confident, if it passes, it will make a substantial difference for the industry as a whole,” says Josh Baker, owner of HiFi in Fountain Square and Executive Director of the Indiana Independent Venue Alliance (IIVA), “It will allow us to get back to work and weather the storm, until there is some more tours out there.”
While some venues resorted to outdoor concerts in the summer, the winter is expected to keep all shows halted. The IIVA calls the grant funding within the bill different. They say it is based on lost revenue and tailored to their industry. Unlike other economic sectors, venues say they can’t just cut back staff, and then reopen like a restaurant. The shows require months of planning, and they believe this bill will allow them to keep those employees working until a vaccine is present.
“No business can just really take it back to the basics. We still have a staff that has to plan next year, and the year after. This is a machine. It takes a full team to run it, not just three people,” details Baker, “Other industries may be able to act much quicker to a reopening. That’s just not the case for us. It’s a twelve-month lead time. We are booked into 2021, 2022.”
While several bills have been proposed from various parties, Bakers says all of them feature help for his industry. He is optimistic that live concerts could return by July.
“This specific piece of legislation generated more letters to congress than any other industry, like in the millions,” says Baker, adding that he is thankful to the fans for speaking up.