Article Contributed by Boulder Theater | Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

To help raise awareness and support for the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act, NIVA Colorado has dubbed Wednesday, July 29th as the organization’s “Day of Action.”

On this day, NIVA Colorado, in conjunction with its national affiliate, is encouraging all affiliated independent venues, music fans and supporters of independent businesses to write letters to members of Congress, encouraging them to support S. 4258, the Save Our Stages Act. This bi-partisan bill was introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), in addition to the S. 3814/H.R. 7481 RESTART Act, and directly impacts independent venues across the country, including Colorado-based venues like Levitt Pavilion in Denver, the Boulder Theater and Fox Theatre in Boulder, the Mesa Theater in Grand Junction and numerous others.

NIVA Colorado members represent 2,800+ employees and 2.7MM individual tickets sold annually, which equates to $57.44MM dollars of direct annual revenue that has been impacted in the state. Our venue members have lost and will continue to lose $4.79MM per month across Colorado. Moreover, entertainment hubs serve as revenue generators for neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels and retail. One Chicago study found that $1USD spent on a ticket at a small independent venue equated to $12USD of economic activity. By those standards, NIVA venue closures are leading to $689.24MM of lost economic activity in Colorado alone; combined with lost ticket revenue, venues and surrounding businesses are losing $62.22MM a month in Colorado. With the future of many of these venues at stake, not only does our local music industry suffer, but countless facets of so many Colorado neighborhoods will lose out, as well.

“Our members told us months ago that if the shutdown lasted six months or longer and there wasn’t federal relief to hold them over, 90% of them would fold permanently,” said Dayna Frank, president of NIVA and CEO First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis. “With no revenue and immense overhead, four months in, it’s already happening. The warning light is flashing red and our only hope is for legislation like Save Our Stages Act or RESTART Act to be passed before Congress goes on August recess. Otherwise, most businesses in this industry will collapse.”

Save Our Stages

Through, more than 1 million emails have been sent letting all 538 members of Congress know that constituents want to keep independent venues alive.

Members of NIVA Colorado share their voices:

“For years independent music venues have been the cornerstones of our music communities, and sometimes even our entire cities. We take chances on artists that no one else will touch, and we take chances on markets that no one else will touch. Our staff are on a first name basis with hundreds of local musicians, artists, and of course our music-loving regulars. What lies inside these buildings is simply irreplaceable.

“As we face unprecedented hardship throughout the entire music industry, with most of us looking at 8 months with no income, and probably another 6 months after that before things get back to pre-COVID levels. The SOS and RESTART acts will offer much needed long term relief to these independent venues, keeping our heads above water, keeping our staff employed, and making sure we are there for our communities once it is safe again for us to hold events.”

– Geoff Brent, Owner of The Black Sheep (Colorado Springs)

“It can’t be conveyed enough…WE WERE THE FIRST INDUSTRY TO HAVE TO SHUT DOWN AND WE’LL BE THE LAST TO REOPEN. It is imperative that our industry as a whole including Cervantes’ receive additional stimulus via the RESTART or Save Our Stages Acts.”

– Scott Morrill and Duncan Goodman, Owners of Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom (Denver)

“Dazzle Denver has been a live music venue for 23 years. We have been a gig employer and  healer of the community through the arts. We can sustain with a bit of financial help.”

– Donald Rossa, Proprietor of Dazzle Denver

“It's a bit like we are farmers in a drought, waiting for rain. All we can do is wait until circumstances change. We just can't do what we have put so much blood, sweat and tears into.”

– Marc Benning, Owner of Lulu's Downstairs (Manitou Springs)

“It’s absolutely crucial that our indie venues receive financial relief from our federal government.   The consequences of venue closures would impact our economy, the music ecosystem, artist development, property values, neighborhood safety and our cultural fabric. It's irresponsible to overlook our industry because historically we haven't been represented politically. Going forward, that will change as we will not give up, we will be heard.”

– Dani Grant, Owner of Mishawaka Amphitheatre (Fort Collins)

“It is vital that indie music venues receive direct support to get through this unprecedented time.  We survive based on having a lot of people out to our venue and for a long period of time now that hasn't been allowed. There is no indication that we are going to be allowed to have large crowds back to enjoy the concerts and events we put on anytime soon either. How would we be expected to keep our business out of bankruptcy if we aren't allowed to run our business for a year or more? We have been effectively shut down since mid March and it will probably be around March of next year before we are allowed to operate in a manner that allows us to afford all the massive bills we have coming at us from every direction all the time whether we are operational or not.”

– Kyle Scott, Owner of Sundance Steakhouse & Saloon (Fort Collins)

“For a lot of these venues with debt mounting, it could be three years before life gets back to normal, and people continue to struggle to get to that point. A lot of what's in these new bills is going to be very helpful.”

– Cheryl Liguori, CEO of Z2 Entertainment’s Boulder Theater, Fox Theatre, Aggie Theatre (Boulder, Fort Collins)

“The SOS and RESTART Acts offer independent venues a lifeline. This is it…there won’t be another chance to save our stages. If neither of these acts pass through Congress, Arts and Culture as we know it will be decimated.”

– Chris Zacher, Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Denver; Director of NIVA Colorado

On its Wednesday, July 29th Day of Action, NIVA Colorado is encouraging as many Coloradans as humanly possible to visit, which will allow them to easily contact their senators and representatives through a form email.

NIVA Colorado is optimistic that an influx of letters supporting the SOS Act will show representatives how important independent music venues are to Colorado’s culture and livelihood. In turn, it hopes representatives will come aboard in support of the SOS Act, which would evolve into financial relief for all of the independent venues who have suffered fatal financial blows due to COVID-19.