SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Entertainment venues like dance clubs and movie theaters will see some relief in COVID-19 package going before congress this week.
The package reportedly allocates $15 billion for the performing arts and other cultural institutions after the industry struggled for months to survive during state-ordered lockdowns. Congress expected to vote on the bill Monday mere hours after it was handed to congressional members that morning.
The relief comes after the months of lobbying by the entertainment industry. The lockdowns imposed by the state have hobbled the live entertainment industry. In the Bay Area alone, the stay-at-home orders and fear of patrons catching the virus have caused many beloved clubs and bars to close down in recent months, including the Stud Bar, Amnesia and Lucky 13.
To help local venues stay afloat, longtime club promoter Parker Gibbs co-founded the Independent Venue Alliance (IVA), which has been holding fundraisers and raising thousands of dollars.
“I have seen some of the most iconic venues in this city close over the past 30 years, and when we saw that there was no financial assistance for venues being considered from the state or local governments, we decided to form an alliance so we would have strength in numbers, and do everything in our power to save those that are still left,” Gibbs said before an IVA fundraiser this past weekend. Gibbs is also co-owner of the Make Out Room.
Asked about the congressional package, Gibbs said he worried that the San Francisco Bay Area won’t receive enough funding as it will have to compete with more celebrated music scenes like New Orleans and New York.
“I truly believe that this should have been a straight up bailout from Congress. Small businesses have already accrued hundreds of thousands in debt during this pandemic just to pay rent, overhead and pay back small business loans. We pay thousands to our insurance providers every year, yet receive zero coverage for Covid,” Gibbs said. “Most landlords are still demanding rent, because let’s be honest, luxury condos are more profitable than a music venue.”
Still, Gibbs feels that the package is a step in the right direction, “but whenever art and commerce meet, it always seems like art gets the short end of the stick.”
“If we learned anything from the last round of stimulus and their ‘good intentions,’ it’s that somehow millionaire businessmen always end up with money for their businesses while the little guy is forced to shutter,” Gibbs said.
It wasn’t clear Monday afternoon how the bill supports the entertainment industry. Those details will be added here later.