Bars and music venues across America worry they’ll never reopen

Cities and town across the US could lose their crucial arts platforms

New York Weekend Edition /
May.May 09, 2020 12:00 PM
Great Scott in Boston (Credit: Facebook)

Great Scott in Boston (Credit: Facebook)

The coronavirus pandemic has forced scores of small bars and clubs across the country to shut their doors and some owners fear they won’t open back up.

Entertainment operators, both corporate-backed large companies like Live Nation and small independent proprietors, are feeling the crunch of the coronavirus pandemic.

But many smaller outfits don’t have the strong financial backing or access to credit that corporate operators have, and some owners told the New York Times they’re more or less on their own.

Like many other small business owners, some venue operators say there’s little relief from the federal stimulus or aid programs put in place to help them weather the pandemic.

The complicated terms of the Paycheck Protection Program loans and long-term uncertainty has some hesitant to take the government up on a loan.

Some are tapping their networks of arts nonprofits, patrons, and friends for contributions. Will Eastman, the owner of Washington’s U Street Music Hall, started selling t-shirts and has sold enough to finance the club for an additional month.

Independent venues have for decades been key outlets and trial grounds for up-and-coming artists, so losing them could have wider impacts on the entertainment industry overall. Long term, there’s uncertainty over when live shows will pick back up.

Many jurisdictions plan to allow live events to open after virtually every other business and public activities, including New York State and California.

People may also be hesitant to gather in large crowds even after government restrictions are lifted.

“We’re just walking in a dark tunnel — we don’t know where this is going to end,” said Chad Rodgers, whose family owns Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. [NYT] — Dennis Lynch


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