On the heels of the $10 billion Save Our Stages act, currently before Congress, that aims to bring federal relief to independent venues across the U.S. comes #SaveLiveEventsNow. The new initiative that looks beyond venues and aims to expand government relief for the more than 12 million live event workers across the United States who have been out of work since concerts, plays, comedy shows, and all other events shut down in March.
Congress has taken steps to show support for the live industry and its contributions to the culture and economy of local communities with bipartisan collaboration on the proposed Save Our Stages (SOS) Act, which provides relief for independent venues and businesses, although the act is part of the larger coronavirus-relief Heroes Act, which is being held up by President Trump’s election-month posturing and other factors. The announcement notes that SOS is an important first step for some of the most vulnerable parts of the industry, “but it is only a first step: The vital workers across every sector of the live event industry are still at risk.”
The movement aims to broaden support and provide assistance to 90% of the 12 million industry workers employed by venues and businesses that don’t qualify for support under Save Our Stages, the announcement notes. It estimates that 77% of live event workers have lost 100% of their income.
The coalition advocates for the following measures to be added to relief efforts to support all workers of live events. Text LIVE EVENTS to 40649 to share these demands with local representatives:
- Financial support until shows are able to restart.Extension of the $600 perweek Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation can directly give relief to industry workers.
- Expand Save Our Stages to include support for small venues under 5,000 seats andpublicly-ownedvenues. These venues are essential employers for live event workers and need access to grants to remain viable until mass gatherings resume.
- Employer retention tax credits.With these credits,workers still employed can maintain employment until shows return and furloughed employees can continue to receive their employer-sponsored healthcare.
- A healthcare subsidy to ensure that no one loses their benefits.The passage of the 100% COBRA premium subsidycan keep employees insured on their job-based healthcare plan.
- Equitable unemployment benefits for mixed income earners.Currently, gig musicians with multiple employment streams face unnecessary burdens when filing for unemployment. The ultimate passage of the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act (H.R. 7691)can help provide some financial security for these gig workers.
- Tax fairness.The passage of thebipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (H.R. 3121) would allow live event workers to keep more of their hard-earned money by deducting necessary business expenses from their taxes.
#SaveLiveEventsNow is supported by over 20 companies and organizations including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), AEG Presents, Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Feld Entertainment, Live Nation Entertainment, Oak View Group, Rhino, TAIT, Endeavor, WME, CAA, UTA, Paradigm, SAG-AFTRA, Universal Music Group and more. The latest list can be found at SaveLiveEventsNow.com.
“Staging an event is no easy task, and these specialized workers have honed their craft over decades. If we abandon them at this critical time, our music, theater, and live entertainment may never recover,” said Tyler McIntosh, Political/Legislative Director, IATSE.
“Live entertainment and in-person experiences play vital roles in stimulating our culture, communities, and local economies and venues are the centers that host and make that possible. Many venues are publicly owned because our society has recognized the important role they play, and now we need to extend that same acknowledgement to the millions of workers who are just as critical to the future of events,” said Brad Mayne, CVE – CEO, International Association of Venue Managers.
In a statement provided to Variety, a rep for NIVA said: “NIVA is grateful for broad, bipartisan Congressional support to preserve independent live venues, and Congress’s recognition of the role independent venues play not only in local economies around the country, but also the role independent venues play in fostering artists. While NIVA was not asked to join these efforts, NIVA has strongly supported legislative efforts to support those truly in need in the live music ecosystem, including by expanding and extending Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for furloughed employees, expanding the Employee Retention Tax Credit, and supporting the Mixed Earners Act and the RESTART Act.”