Save Our Stages: More than a dozen local music venues join national coalition’s cry for help

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than a dozen independent music venues in Nashville have joined a national effort, calling on Congress to help “save our stages.”

The new coalition, the National Independent Venue Association is looking to secure financial support to preserve the national ecosystem of independent venues and promoters.

“Ninety percent of independent music venues will not get to the other side of this. They will not re-open unless we get some assistance,” Telisha Cobb, co-owner of Exit/In told News 2.

Cobb and her husband Chris are among more than 1,000 other owners of independent music venues across the country that have joined NIVA in the call for help.

“The feds, they’ve got to change the rules and fix the program. It’s so broken. The majority of our staff are tipped and hourly and they are able to make more money on unemployment right now than they made working for us. We have to hire 75 percent of them back to qualify for forgiveness with the PPP loan, we can’t,” explained Chris Cobb.

Marathon Music Works, The 5 Spot, Cannery Ballroom, and the Bluebird Café are among those locally in the coalition that were first to close and will be among the last to re-open. The venues have been left with essentially no way to generate money.

“Our revenue is down about 95 percent,” stated the Cobb’s.

Gathering in masses to enjoy a live performance is at the core of what small independent music venues like theirs do and right now what that looks like, even on the other side of this pandemic is far from what some may call “normal.”

“We are not going back to normal and none of us knows what the future holds.”

The Cobb’s say social distancing the live, carefree music experience is “impossible.”

“You are not going to socially distance the live music experience, the festival-going experience, the concert attending experience, and have it be the same experience, it’s impossible. You are not going to feel carefree with your mask on, you are not going to enjoy your nice cold beer with it on either which is an economic issue for all of us in the concessions business,” they said.

Independent venues are the economic drivers for our local economy impacting restaurants and shops and they are the foundation of the live music ecosystem.

“If we talk about the live music ecosystem as a whole, songwriters, where will their songs be performed if independent live venues are not there? Artists when they start out they need smaller independent venues to get their start.”

Without the ability to gather at full capacity, the Cobb’s say independent music venues like Exit/In are not financially viable.

“There’s no better state to save live music than the state of Tennessee. We feel very positive of our chances of having Tennessee lead this charge to the Senate to ensure that these venues are able to make it to the other side of this crisis. Music is divine. Music will get through this. It’s just going to take a long time,” said Chris Cobb.

He went on to say it’s going to take a vaccine or scientific breakthrough and they believe that’s likely going to be at least another year.

The Cobb’s say contact city and state reps and advocate for the live music ecosystem by encouraging them to put public funding behind the places that you love.

For more information on the efforts of the coalition, click here.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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