Kenzie Carlson

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has created a hashtag Save Our Stages as a part of a virtual festival to raise money for the emergency relief fund.

#SaveOurStages was created by the NIVA, who partnered with YouTube to put on a three day event.

“This benefit event aimed to generate significant awareness, advocacy and donations for the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, directly supporting our most vulnerable venues experiencing catastrophic revenue loss,”  the Save Our Stages website said.

In order to apply for the emergency relief fund, potential recipients needed to apply between Sept. 29 and Oct. 18.

“The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Emergency Relief Fund, a project of The Giving Back Fund, is a collaboration between patrons, businesses, organizations, and funders in support of a 2,800+ membership consortium of independent venues and promoters across the nation,” the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund Guidelines & Application information said.

The Relief Fund was created to help with the costs of current operations, as well as operations during the start of the pandemic.

“This Relief Fund aligns with NIVA’s mission to preserve and nurture the independent ecosystem that presents music, comedy, and the performing arts (fund recipients) and raise relief funding for the extreme landscape and challenges independent venues and promoters are currently facing in the COVID-19 era,” the Guidelines & Application information document stated.

The Save Our Stages website lists the locations of venues for the event. The Central Florida area had multiple participating locations, including Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando and The Pink Piano in Lakeland. There are also several other locations in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.

The virtual Festival included 25 artists who live recorded their performances from venues across the nation. Each night of the fest featured different bands and singers, such as Mackelmore, G Easy, Marshmello and Demi Lovato. The event was hosted by comedian Reggie Watts. Some of the venues used included Apollo Theater, Crystal Ballroom and Preservation Hall.

The event had an impact on not only theatres and venues nationwide, but also on the theatres and venues who directly participated in the event.

As a result of the initial event, $1.8 million was raised.

Although the event concluded a few weeks ago, donations can still be made to the fund and to NIVA’s general operations fund in multiple ways.

You can donate directly through the Save Our Stages website or by using the ‘buy merch’ tab on the same site. You can also act by contacting Congress to pass the Save Our Stages act, which is a part of the Heroes Act. 

“This bill authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic on certain live venues”, the summary of the bill on Congress.gov said. 

With this bill, the Small Business Administration could make $12 million available to operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives, with an additional 50 percent of the initial grant being made available that must go towards the costs of operation between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

“Such grants shall be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment,” the summary continued.

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