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NIVA calls for urgent govt assistance for US indies

The new independent venue association is asking for further support from US lawmakers to help its members weather the coronavirus shutdown

By IQ on 23 Apr 2020

NIVA member First Avenue in Minneapolis

image © Independent Venue Week USA

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), an alliance of US grassroots venues formed earlier this month, has written to members of the US Congress to ask for immediate assistance to a sector it says is facing an existential crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter – addressed to House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer – asks for urgent “legislative and regulatory” aid for the association’s more than 800 members, including adjustments to the existing paycheck protection program [sic] loan scheme, as well as tax credits for refunded tickets, mortgage/rent payment holidays and the deferral of existing debt.

NIVA, which joins existing small-venue associations such as Music Venues Alliance in the UK, Petzi in Switzerland and KeepOn Live in Italy, is also asking for concrete guidelines on mass gatherings in advance of reopening, and support with complying with any new health guidelines.

“Our passionate and fiercely independent operators are not ones to ask for hand-outs,” explains NIVA board president Dayna Frank, who owns the 1,550-capacity First Avenue in Minneapolis.

“For the first time in history there is legitimate fear for our collective existence”

“But because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.”

Established on 17 April, NIVA’s stated mission is to fight for venues’ survival amid the ongoing nationwide shutdown.

“Independent venues and promoters have a unique set of circumstances that require specialised assistance, so we’ve banded together and secured a powerhouse lobbying firm,” says Gary Witt, CEO of Pabst Theater Group and founding member of NIVA. “Akin Gump has been tapped to represent us, and that telegraphs to Capitol Hill that our needs are serious. Most of us have gone from our best year ever to a dead stop in revenues, but our expenses and overhead are still real, and many will not make it without help.

“Our employees, the artists, and the fans need us to act. But we are also an important income generator for those around us, bringing revenue to area restaurants, bars, hotels, and retail shops.”


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