Klobuchar bill would cough up $10 billion for struggling music venues

First Avenue

First Avenue Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

What’s Amy Klobuchar been up to lately, now that she’s not running for national office?

Well, the senior U.S. senator from Minnesota just co-sponsored a pretty decent bipartisan bill that might help keep the lights on at your favorite music club.

Klobuchar signed on with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) for the Save Our Stages Act, which would set aside $10 billion in relief over the next month for live music venues, available in chunks up to $12 million or 45 percent of a venue’s 2019 operating costs.

“Minnesota’s concert halls, theaters, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”

The bill is relatively generous—that’s grant money, not loans or tax credits. And at least as currently written, it narrowly defines who’s eligible to prevent big companies (such as Live Nation, which opened the Fillmore in Minneapolis earlier this year) from gobbling up funds.

If “Save Our Stages” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the also name of a campaign to highlight the financial plight of music venues by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), the newly formed organization, headed up by First Avenue CEO Dayna Frank, that’s been lobbying D.C. for relief since COVID-19 closed their doors earlier this year.

As with many industries, things are bad in the live entertainment biz. We recently went into more detail about the particular struggles that venues face here.

In addition to First Ave and its other properties, Minnesota’s NIVA members include the Dakota, Amsterdam, Mortimer's, the State and Orpheum theaters, Moorhead's Bluestem Amphitheater, and the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.