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NIVA hopes to be savior for forgotten NYC music venues

Danielle Epel | The Ticker

The National Independent Venue Association, also referred to as NIVA, is at the forefront of the battle to save independent venues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Concert venues were forced to shut down in March and only those with outdoor spaces were able to briefly reopen over the summer.

As the months continue to go by and concert venues continue to stay closed, concert goers and venue owners are realizing the future might be grim for longer than anticipated.

It is projected that 90% of independent venues might permanently close at the end of 2020 due to a lack of assistance from the national government.

This projection is disastrous and worrying to those a part of the DIY music scene across the United States. However, efforts are being made to help venues stay alive.

NIVA is the lobbyist aspect of the National Independent Venue Foundation, a registered non-profit which has over 2,000 venues as its members. NIVA has been spreading awareness about the absence of aid received by independent venues from the government.

Through livestreamed festivals and partnering with artists, they are lobbying for the Save Our Stages Act, which is proposed to be a part of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act that is dedicated to allocating stimulus funds for venues.

The Save Our Stages Act is still up in the air within Congress. Sen. Chuck Schumer has taken a public stand and pushed for the act, however much of the political atmosphere continues to disregard that venues are walking on thin ice.

Most recently, Independent Venue Week, which fell on the last week of October, was celebrated in New York City through a partnership between NIVA and a few venues across Brooklyn and Queens.

From Oct. 26-30, Trans Pecos teamed up with Baby’s Alright, Sultan’s Room, Purgatory, Our Wicked Lady, Purgatory and The Broadway.

These venues hosted artists to create live performances then livestreamed them in the Trans Pecos yard and streamed them online.

Seeing as Trans Pecos is one of the few venues that has outdoor space, music lovers from all over New York flocked to support these quintessential venues.

Over the past few months there have been underground raves popping up under bridges and in parks just for the sake of performance and fun.

However, the spaces that facilitated musical artistry and performances long before COVID-19 were being left behind by fans and artists. Independent Venue Week allowed for local artists to feel a strong relief by performing in these beloved venues around their loyal fans.

Several New York City venues that have outdoor access have not been as generous with using their space collaboratively to help bring funds to other independent venues. Simply put, it is every man for themselves.

Venues are running out of options while Save Our Stages floats in congressional purgatory.

One of the most controversial lifelines thrown has been music executive and co-founder of Lollapalooza Marc Geiger.

In an attempt to bail out venues, Geiger has put together $75 million dollars to invest into independent venues. Of course this comes with a catch, Geiger wants to own 51% equity in any venue that agrees to take him on as an investor.

Essentially, venues are being offered to lose autonomy or close their doors.

New York City’s tourism and economy depends heavily on entertainment and arts. Just whiffs of New York City’s creative aroma have persuaded people from all over the world to make this city their home.

Yet in times of need, the spaces that have created platforms for people’s creativity are the last to receive support.

The pandemic has rampaged several industries, however, venues do not deserve the lack of aid they have been receiving when big name companies are receiving government loans.

Concerts will come back, and when they do everyone will remember who was and was not there to support the spaces that created them.

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