Keep Music Live
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
I like milestones. Occasions to be marked, achievements to be commemorated are more than just entries on a calendar, they are cause for celebration. And those celebrations are bright spots, the things we can look forward to when times are tough.
A person can live a whole life connecting the dots from one milestone to the next.
Except in 2020, when the milestones we mark are almost universally grim. We chart COVID cases, first in the thousands, now in the millions. Deaths in the hundred thousands. The numbers are staggering. The toll unimaginable.
With those figures come statistics detailing economic fallout. Jobs lost. Businesses shuttered. Whole industries on the brink of failure.
It’s in that climate that another milestone was reached at the end of November: It has been more than 250 days since the last concert in Washington.
That statistic comes courtesy of Keep Music Live Washington, the nonprofit that was formed a couple of months ago for the sole purpose of fighting like hell to make sure that the state’s rich fabric of music venues is still knit together when we get to the other side of this.
Speaking frankly, these are neither happy nor hopeful times. We’re all worn out, our stamina is in short supply and many of us are depending on sheer stubbornness to see us through.
Pretty much every venue owner I know is stubborn as hell—you’d have to be to choose owning a music venue as your line of work. But they’re going to need more than just strong wills to stay in business. They’re going to need money.
So far, as I’ve mentioned on a regular basis for the past eight months, financial relief for music venues has been scant to nonexistent. However, there’s been some progress on that front with the news that Gov. Jay Inslee has allocated $70 million in grant funding to be paid out to business sectors hardest hit by the financial impacts of COVID-19—and music venues are on the list of businesses receiving top priority.
That’s the good news. The not-great news is the grants max out at $20,000, a tidy sum but not nearly enough to help venues that have spent eight months incurring costs with little or no revenue to offset them.
That said, the long-term picture is not as bleak as it once was. More and more legislators have voiced their support for the bipartisan Save Our Stages act, and the incoming presidential administration has its sights firmly focused on economic aid of all kinds.
As for what we can do in the meantime, a fair number of our favorite music venues might not be in the business of live music at the moment, but they’re still selling merch. T-shirts and hoodies are excellent all-purpose, all-around holiday gifts, even if the person you’re giving them to is you.
For more info, see http://www.keepmusiclivewa.com.