Rumor Has It
Keep Music Live
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
While I haven’t seen Wild Buffalo owner and endless source of delight Craig Jewell in months because, well, COVID, I keep hearing rumors of endless Zoom meetings and top-secret shenanigans that are more serious than the kind of shenanigans he normally traffics in.
Along with those rumors are the ones that say Sir Mix-A-Lot is somehow involved, as are high rollers from the likes of Vulcan, Starbucks, and Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation. That’s some pretty rarefied company to be in, but given that nothing about Craig surprises me anymore because everything about him is a constant surprise, I’m ready to believe anything.
Those rumors coalesced into fact with the announcement of Keep Music Live, a COVID-19 relief fund for “small, independently owned venues across Washington state.” The goal is to raise $10 million with the aim of doling it out in grants to the small music venues that have been hit especially hard by pandemic shutdown orders. Unlike federal aid programs that seem uniquely devised to do everything they can to not help music venues while offering so little oversight that they’ve doled out millions to big businesses that should not need the assistance, to be eligible for a Keep Music Live grant, a venue must have a capacity of 1,000 or less and offer music at a minimum of three nights a week.
When awarded, the grant money can be used to cover all of the things venues so desperately need right now, such as “rent, insurance, staffing, PPE and safety modifications.” Venues that have received other forms of funding remain eligible for the money from Keep Music Live, and because the payout is a grant, it will not have to be paid back.
To be clear, Keep Music Live grants are separate from the funding sought by All In WA, the Washington Nightlife Music Association, the National Independent Venue Association, and the various federal measures currently before the House and Senate. To be clearer, most, if not all, of these funding sources will need to be brought to bear in order to save, not just some venues, but the entire ecosystem of music venues currently struggling. And maybe I’m a crazy talker, but I believe that saving every venue should be the goal. COVID has taken enough. We must preserve what’s left.
Helping to facilitate Keep Music Live is its nonprofit partner, none other than the Whatcom Community Foundation. Since the second it became clear COVID would exact an enormous economic toll on those least able to pay it, the Whatcom Community Foundation has mobilized and marshaled its considerable forces to help all they can. Always a resourceful and effective philanthropic force under normal circumstances, the pandemic has proven them to be even more powerful under pressure. We’re all going to owe them a big ol’ hug when we’re allowed to hug again.