MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  For many, it is the lifeblood of a vibrant downtown. Live music, performances and comedy acts packed into small, independent establishments like First Avenue.

But crowds and COVID don’t mix. That’s why small entertainment venues were among the first to close last March and will be the last to reopen when the virus threat subsides.

Still, with no ticket revenues coming into the clubs, 90% of the independently-owned venues say they can’t hang on much longer.

“We don’t foresee any sort of normal business this year at all,” explains First Avenue Marketing Director, Ashley Ryan. “It’s definitely moving and has moved to 2021.”

Places like the Fine Line, Dakota and other ballrooms and theatres are facing the same financial strain.

“Save Our Stages is about saving music in America,” explains Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The Senator aims to do just that through her $10-billion addition to the latest relief package.

The act is co-sponsored by Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn. Live music and concert venues are extremely important to cities like Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee.

Save Our Stages Act gives the small, independent venues, six-months of financial aid to bridge the gap until crowds safely return. The grants through the Small Business Administration would be capped at 45% of 2019 operating costs, or a maximum of $12-million.

“Music is one of our biggest moneymakers in America and it is a huge export across the world,” adds Sen. Klobuchar. “We don’t want it to go away and stop these new artists from developing.”

Referring to artists like Prince, Bob Dylan and Lizzo who rode small Minnesota clubs to superstardom.

“Now we’re moving all our shows in August and September into next year,” adds First Avenue’s Ryan.

And for many venues, another five months without revenue will be too much to bear.

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Bill Hudson