DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The North Texas arts industry is asking Congress for an SOS, which in this case stands for Save Our Stages.
The push comes days after Texas Senator John Cornyn and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced a bipartisan bill to provide massive relief to the struggling industry.
A venue normally bursting with music and fans has been dark since March. Mike Schoder, owner of the Granada Theater, a Dallas live music staple since 1946, said COVID-19 froze the music industry in its tracks.
“To see the live music business just halted like it has been it just such an unfortunate surprise,” he said.
With no shows since the pandemic began, he was forced to lay off 75 of his 85 employees.
Yet rent payments are still due.
“This venue’s over $50,000 a month just to sit here and do nothing with no staff,” Schoder said.
The Bishop Arts Theatre has also remained dark, though they’ve pivoted to virtual programming. Teresa Coleman Wash, the Executive Artistic Director and Founder, said this time has been devastating for all of North Texas.
“The industry has lost 34 million dollars in ticket sales, and for an organization like ours, that was a gut punch,” she said.
Both support the Save Our Stages Act, which would provide $10 billion in funding to independent arts venues around the country. It would mean grants to cover expenses such as rent, utilities, and maintenance.
The Granada and 20 others have named August 4 the Save Our Stages DFW Day of Action.
They’re asking music fans to reach out to their representatives in Congress who have yet to officially sign the Act.
“It will help us really keep our doors open for the long haul until there’s a vaccine hopefully,” Coleman Wash said.
“This would be an absolute lifeline. It honestly is probably the only thing that will cause venues to stay around,” said Schoder. “If there are no music venues, life won’t be as full.”