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NIVA calls for urgent govt assistance for US indies

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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Kelly Flanigan appointed Live Nation president of Washington DC

Kelly Flanigan has been named president of Washington DC for Live Nation’s US concerts division.

In her expanded role, Flanigan, who joined Live Nation in 2006 as a talent buyer, will oversee booking, marketing and business operations for the company the region, including Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Meanwhile, long-serving exec Wilson Howard has been promoted to chief operating officer of Washington DC/the Carolinas, US concerts, overseeing Live Nation’s development and long-term strategic planning for the region. Both will report to Bob Roux, Live Nation’s president of US concerts.

The pair’s promotion follows that of Brittany Flores and Neil Jacobsen to president of Miami and COO of Florida, respectively, earlier this week.

“Kelly has been key to Live Nation’s success in DC since joining the company over a decade ago, and her promotion to president of the DC region is very well-deserved,” says Roux. “By elevating Kelly and Wilson, we’re confident that Live Nation will continue to expand our business and our annual concerts throughout the region.”

 


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DC promoter Jack Boyle passes aged 83

Washington, DC-based concert promoter Jack Boyle, who co-founded Cellar Door Productions and went on to become head of music for the first iteration of SFX Entertainment, has died aged 83.

Cellar Door Productions, which spun out of famed DC nightclub the Cellar Door, was at its peak in the ’90s one of the most important regional promoters in the US, with an annual turnover of $75 million. Boyle also owned several major venues, including the Nissan Pavilion (now the 25,262-cap. Jiffy Lube Live) in Bristow, Virginia, and the Sunrise Musical Theatre (3,732) in Miami, Florida.

In 1998, Boyle sold the Cellar Door companies to Robert Sillerman’s SFX for a reported US$105m, joining SFX as head of its music division.

SFX – not to be confused with Sillerman’s second, EDM-focused company of the same name, now known as LiveStyle – was later sold to Clear Channel and in 2005 spun off to form Live Nation.

“To say that Jack was one of the most important people in the music business would be an understatement”

Boyle later went on to a major role with Live Nation, reports THR, before retiring in 2006.

“I worked as Jack‘s assistant when he first began doing concerts,” recalls photographer Michael Oberman, who broke the news that Boyle had passed after a period of illness via his Facebook page. “Realising that the Cellar Door nightclub could sell out six straight nights of Gordon Lightfoot, [he thought], ‘Why not do one night of Gordon Lightfoot at Constitution Hall. Then the Kennedy Center, then the Capital Center and RFK Stadium…

“To say that Jack was one of the most important people in the music business would be an understatement. My condolences to his son, John, and Jack‘s many friends.”

 


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