Local, national efforts work to save concert venues hit hard by pandemic

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Concert venues were among the first businesses to shut down because of the pandemic and they could be some of the last to reopen.

But efforts are underway to provide them a lifeline.

The National Independent Venue Association is asking people to go to saveourstages.com and sign the petition urging members of Congress to support the RESTART Act. The bill would provide partially-forgivable loans, giving businesses like concert venues a chance to survive COVID-19 closures.

Daniel Romandia, the marketing director for The Starlet Room and Harlow’s in Sacramento, said there have been “well over a million letters sent to Congress.”

“We’ve had to come up with a little bit more creative ways of making our income just because the usual way that we were, obviously, is not happening,” Romandia told FOX40.

Harlow’s is currently selling merchandise, beer and multi-show ticket plans for the future.

Staff members at Harlow’s and The Starlet Room have put together an effort called the California Capitol Venue Coalition, asking local leaders for support.

“While what NIVA is doing nationally is fantastic, it’s not going to be the whole story when it comes to being able to save these places,” Romandia said. “We really do need the help from the local governments as well.”

The venue operators pointed out it is not only about saving their businesses. It’s also about the benefits those businesses bring to their surrounding communities. 

The Save Our Stages petition cites a Chicago study that concluded every dollar spent at a small concert venue resulted in $12 of economic activities for neighboring restaurants, hotels and retail shops.

“We ran the numbers. We get about 80,000 people within our venue both up and downstairs at Harlow’s and the Starlet Room each year. And our average ticket price, probably around the $15 range,” Romandia explained. “So, when you do the math there of one dollar of a ticket equaling $12 in economic value, it ends up being $14.4 million in economic value.”

Venue operators said they hope elected leaders with the power to provide relief will recognize the value of these businesses.

“We are here. We do have this very important benefit when it comes to local economy,” Romandia said. “And, ultimately, what we do want to do is just get a little bit of extra help through this situation until we are able to open back up and able to kind of support ourselves like we were before.”

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