New Grammy Awards executive producer Ben Winston says he is “looking to do something quite exciting with independent venues” either in or around the 2021 show, according to a comment in an interview with Billboard.
Responding to a question about what might be new with the 2021 show, Winston responds, “I’m so struck by the independent music venues around the world, and I’m aware of how hard hit that side of the industry has been. I’m looking to do something quite exciting with the independent venues — supporting them and putting a spotlight on them in what has been a really tough year for them.”
He is referring to the struggle independent music venues have experienced due to the coronavirus lockdown — which instantly eliminated the primary form of income for them as well as the millions of musicians, staff, technicians, bartenders, security and others in the live-entertainment ecosystem. According to a survey by the National Independent Venue Association earlier this year, some 90% of U.S. venues will be forced to shut down without federal aid — which is part of the “Heroes” act that has been bogged down in the political morass of the Senate for months. Dec. 18 is the last day this year the act could be passed.
While reps for Winston, the Recording Academy and NIVA did not respond to Variety’s requests for further comment, considering the vast music community that the Recording Academy represents, it seems very likely that conversations have been had about spotlighting the plight of venues as well as the music community during the Grammy Awards.
Interim Grammy chief Harvey Mason, jr. initially told Variety earlier this year that the show would be taking place at the Staples Center as usual, with or without an audience. However, but that plan has evolved, according to his comment in an interview with Variety late last month.
“It’s in and around Downtown L.A., is what we’re saying now, as we’re still trying to finalize the location,” he said. Asked about an audience, he continued, “We’re still kind of on the fence, it really depends on what the medical professionals tell us we can do, and what the leaders of the city of L.A. and California allow us to do. We definitely have a location in Downtown L.A., we have live performances, live awards, great hosts. It’s gonna be a show that’s different from the other awards shows that have happened at this point, we’re going to determine as we get a little bit closer what we’re going to do with our audience, but we have some really cool and special things that are coming together for our show.”
In the meantime, here are ways you can help independent venues to survive.
The Grammy Awards are scheduled for Jan. 31 in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on CBS.