Local venues will be receiving some much-needed financial assistance. With the passage of the $900 billion federal stimulus package, they will receive $19 billion along with theatrical producers or live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives. The disbursement could take weeks if not months. If the monies are unleashed around the time the COVID-19 vaccines begin to work their magic, the parties could be epic.
Lola’s Trailer Park, MASS, The Post, and a handful of other 817 spots and promoters are in line to receive some of that phat, phat federal largesse. To qualify, a venue or promoter must have suffered at least a 25% drop in revenue since the state-ordered lockdowns. Brian Forella is cautiously optimistic that he meets that criterion.
“Hopefully, I qualify,” Lola’s owner said, noting that his revenue appears to be down by nearly 70%. “Hopefully, we meet all the requirements. Business has really slowed down with the jump in [new COVID] cases and colder weather.”
Having read over the bill, I believe Lola’s, MASS, The Post, Magnolia Motor Lounge, Filthy McNasty’s, and all of the other local locales will qualify. Disbursed amounts will be 45% of earned revenue from April 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, up to $10 million per entity, according to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), the nonprofit that formed after the pandemic to lobby for federal help via the social media campaign Save Our Stages.
“I’m not sure how the money will be distributed,” said Ryan Higgs, co-owner of MASS. “The money will be used to keep the doors open, staff paid, and hopefully a few improvements. The next steps will probably be to fill out an application and wait for the approval.”
Another hopeful operator is The Post’s Brooks Kendall, who said that his River East venue might not have survived without money from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP, the federal campaign geared toward small businesses) and a Preserve the Fort grant, administered by the City of Fort Worth.
“In theory,” Kendall said, the Save Our Stages money is “a great thing and will help in a big way. Hopefully, the execution of the program will be efficient and fair.”
Let’s hope. As Kendall intimates, the bill has some weird, loosey-goosey criteria. One of them is that an entity can have a maximum of 500 employees. Sounds like a pretty, pretty major company to me. Another is that at least $2 billion will be reserved for places with fewer than 50 employees — which is easily every venue in Fort Worth and every other similar place across the country — making me wonder what sorts of 50-plus-employee arts businesses (dance companies? major museums?) will be divvying up that leftover $13 billion. I guess certain provisions needed to be made to direct some help toward the ones who need it most. Like, uh, music venues.
Higgs said he’s “really happy” for all of the places and people who receive aid.
And so am I. For now. — Anthony Mariani
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