Hundreds of artists, along with actors and comedians, have added their signatures to a letter calling for the US Congress to provide assistance for independent music venues who are struggling to survive due to the global lockdown.
Among the names in the open letter from the National Independent Venue Association are Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant, Foo Fighters, Alice Cooper, Neil Young, Alter Bridge, Trent Reznor, Alan Parsons, Duff McKagan, Black Stone Cherry, Gary Clark Jr, Kvelertak, Queensryche, Zakk Wylde, Halestorm, Gwar, Joni Mitchell and Bob Weir.
In the letter, the artists state: “We, the undersigned artists, respectfully submit this letter in support of the National Independent Venue Association's request for federal assistance for independent music venues and promoters across the United States.
“We will know America is ‘back’ when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely. The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation’s cultural and economic fabric. In fact, 53% of Americans – that’s 172 million of us – attended a concert last year.
“We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock’n’roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America's largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe.
“All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighbourhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions.
“Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.
“We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating.
“Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them.
“With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages.”
Earlier this month, politicians in the UK were told by Horace Trubridge of the Musicians’ Union and Julian Bird, the chief executive of UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, that 70% of UK music venues and theatres were at risk of permanent closure unless the government took action.
The news came after the Music Venue Trust launched the #saveourvenues campaign in April to help support 556 venues threatened with permanent closure across the country.