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Michigan Independent Music Venues Band Together to Request State-Level Assistance Via a Newly Created #SAVEMISTAGES Relief Fund

Michigan-based members of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) have joined together to request the formation of the #SaveMIStages relief fund from the State of Michigan to ensure independent venues do not close their doors permanently. NIVA consists of over 3000 independently owned venues and promotional companies nationwide, including 70+ in the state of Michigan, that have been closed since March due to COVID-19 and resulting pandemic.

As we approach the seventh month of closure, many venues, faced with zero income and steady overhead costs, are likely to close within the upcoming months. NIVA members have spent the past six months lobbying the federal government for meaningful aid. To date, this effort has not produced any funding to help secure the future of these venues.

“While existing government assistance programs have helped other industries, they weren’t tailored to meet the needs of small businesses like ours that have zero revenue, enormous overhead and no visibility into when we can fully re-open,” said Scott Hammontree, Partner and General Manager of The Intersection in Grand Rapids. “We have not had any concerts since March 12th and it would appear we will not see any business until 2021 at best. Venues have a huge impact in their communities as employers and economic engines. Here in Michigan, our NIVA members have a $667M annual impact on the state’s economy.”

Michigan venues were among the first small businesses to close and will likely be the last to reopen. As locally owned and operated businesses, the revenue created re-circulates right here in Michigan. The federal government has failed to act in a meaningful way to help us stay afloat until it is safe to re-open. Traditional PPP and EIDL loans have failed as venues have no revenue in the foreseeable future and no jobs to offer. Currently venues are experiencing a 90% loss of revenue.

“The Machine Shop in Flint has hosted thousands of rock and country concerts for almost 19 years. The economic impact to this area goes well beyond our walls,” said owner Kevin Zink. “The local restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. all benefit greatly from us bringing in people from hundreds of miles around, over 100 times per year. Our fundraising and charity work also benefits organizations locally and nationally. We have gone over six months by no fault of our own without any income or assistance. We need the #SaveMIStages fund to be created in order to make it to the other side of this pandemic.”

“Through no fault of our own our businesses remain shuttered. We are asking the State of Michigan to step in and help save our businesses. If we close it will have a devastating effect on the economies in our communities,” said Hammontree. A recent Chicago study showed that for every $1 spent on concert tickets another $12 is spent in our local economies.

Other states, including Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, and Oregon, have all stepped up to help their venues. If meaningful aid doesn’t come in soon, it is estimated that 90% of independently owned venues will close forever.

Starting on Monday, September 20 and running through mid-week, we’re running the #SaveMIStages campaign, encouraging all Michigan supporters of live music to visit SaveMIStages.com to write letters of support to our state-level elected officials, asking them to set aside $10 million for a newly created #SaveMIStages Fund, which will be distributed among active Michigan music venues to help with overhead costs and ensure that these community spaces aren’t lost forever.

To cover this campaign and help spread the word, please reach out to Scott Hammontree, Michigan NIVA precinct captain, at scott@sectionlive.com.

Seven Steps Up Live Music + Events is West Michigan’s original listening room. Located in downtown Spring Lake, Michigan in a renovated Masonic Temple (circa 1919), it is in its ninth year of operation. With over 500 concert performances featuring GRAMMY winners/nominees, music legends, and rising stars it has become an anchor of Spring Lake’s revitalization and a beacon for live music lovers throughout Michigan and surrounding states.