Congress Approved $15 Billion to Save Entertainment Venues -- Why Has Not a Penny Been Spent So Far?
Lobbyists for the entertainment industry cheered a $15 billion bailout for music venues and other independent entertainment outlets closed by the pandemic, which Congress passed in late December and President Trump signed into law in January. But relief has turned to frustration, as not a single penny from the Save Our Stages Act has been sent out yet.
"We honestly don't know how much longer we're going to have to wait," said Audrey Schaefer of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group created during the pandemic to lobby for federal aid. "Thousands of live venues need the money fast, and for many others it's now too late."
The Small Business Association (SBA), which was charged with disbursing funds to independent cinemas, performing arts groups, music venues, museums and theatrical producers, has not even opened the application process for receiving grants.
We are just one week away from having been closed for a full year. A year!
Our neighbors at The Oasis are doing a telethon this weekend, check it out:
Oasis could close for good. To stop that, S.F. drag club is putting on old-school telethon
"It's easy with all the stuff we're doing to make it look like we're winning this," Drollinger says. "In a lot of ways we are, with what we're doing for the community, but it's not realistic to run a venue of this size and be closed. I thought rather than let things totally fall apart, I would ask for help."
For the well-known South of Market club and alternative performance venue to survive the next few months, Drollinger is trying to raise $100,000 via a telethon to be aired on the club's streaming service, Oasis TV, and the crowdfunding site GiveButter.com on March 6.
"The harsh reality is our rent is $20,000 a month, and there's another $8,000 to $10,000 in other costs we have to meet, so we're looking at about $30,000 a month just to exist," Drollinger says.
And here's a sad article about the recent closure of Virgil's Sea Room:
With Virgil's closure, SF loses another great queer space
Meanwhile, Thirkield was running through her savings hoping the pandemic would pass, and found she was approaching an amount that no GoFundMe could fix. "I had a cut-off number. If we hit that, I would have to call it quits. We managed to negotiate something with the landlord, but we would still have to pay them back at the end. We cut back everything.
"I saw other bars taking out these really big loans. I absolutely love what we did with Virgil's, it was a very special place. I love the community we built together. But I don't want to spend the next five or more years of my life digging out from under this huge debt. That kind of stress and risk, when who knows even now when we can open again -- it's not worth it."
May I remind you that DNA Lounge has a Patreon? It is a big part of the reason that we're not dead yet. Especially given the nearly complete lack of support from of our City, State and Federal Governments. Please order some pizza and gets yourself some lovely DNA Lounge face masks and old-skool slip mats. Every little bit helps...