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01 October 2023

Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga sign letter asking Congress to save independent venues

Photo: Bang

By Bang

Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga and Dave Grohl are among a group of 600 artists who have signed a letter to Congress asking them to save small venues.

The National Independent Venue Association was formed in April and they've just announced that hundreds of artists have given their signatures to the letter demanding federal financial support, as it was reported that more than 1,000 independent venues across the US are on the brink of permanent closure if they do not receive the vital funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Other major stars to give the their backing to the 'Save Our Stages' campaign include Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant, Willie Nelson and Coldplay.

The iconic Troubadour in Los Angeles is one of the several venues at risk of shutting its doors as they stand empty during the global health crisis.

The letter reads: "Dear Congress:

We, the undersigned artists, respectfully submit this letter in support of NIVA's request for federal assistance for independent music venues and promoters across the United States.

"We will know America is "back" when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely. The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation's cultural and economic fabric.

"In fact, 53% of Americans - that's 172 million of us - attended a concert last year.

"We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America's largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe.

"All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighborhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions.

Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 9‚Äč0% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there's no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.

We are asking you to support NIVA's request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it's safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry's ecosystem would be devastating.

Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them.

With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages.(sic)"