It's been over a year since NYC music venues shut down entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic. They'll be allowed to reopen on Friday, April 2 at reduced capacity, but independent venues still need help. The New York Independent Venue Association (NYIVA) recently launched an effort urging state officials to provide targeted support to venues who were among the hardest hit:

“Targeted assistance for independent venues and promoters will accelerate the industry’s ability to open safely and begin the multi-months long ramp-up process required to book tours, market live events, and get audiences comfortable sitting together again,” said NYIVA Co-Chair Jen Lyon in a statement. “We will know New York is truly back as the arts capital of the world when our state’s venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts, shows, and performances safely.”

NYIVA has also created a letter that you can personalize and send to state representatives urging them to support the live arts industry. It says, in part:

Live performance has been placed at the epicenter of New York State’s recovery, but without any significant financial support from state or local government. This industry continues to be the only industry still shuttered beyond Phase 4 and unable to operate by government mandate. A recent HUD study documenting the most impacted sectors in each state, shows that arts & culture is the second most impacted industry in NYS.

Over 30 states and localities have created arts and culture specific funds in the past year. New York should do the same. Targeted assistance for independent venues and promoters will accelerate the industry’s ability to open safely and begin the multi-months long ramp-up process required to book tours, market live events, and get audiences comfortable sitting together again.

Among NYIVA's suggested modifications to the One House Budget Bills include increasing eligibility, increasing the size of the fund, commercial rent relief, and more. Read all their proposed modifications below:

NYIVA’s suggested modifications are as follows:
Small Business Reopening and Relief Grant program

Increase eligibility:

  • include nonprofit performing arts sector.
  • increase to 500 or eliminate the FTE cap for the for-profit and nonprofit performing arts sector (this will not significantly impact the fund but would help the sector tremendously).
  • Create a 30-day priority period for the performing arts sector (for profit and nonprofit) due to state government mandated closures.
  • Change the definition of microbusiness to 40 employees.
  • Candidates may not be required to provide matching funds for any of these relief programs.
  • Provide grants as advances, not reimbursements.
  • Increase the overall size of the fund to ensure meaningful relief. We project the cost to address our need alone to be about $250M.

Commercial Rent Relief

    Create a 30-day priority period for the performing arts sector (both for profit and nonprofit) due to state government mandated closures.

Arts Fund (NYSCA)

  • Clarify that all art nonprofit organizations are eligible for relief funding regardless of a prior funding history with NYSCA or previous eligibility within traditional NYSCA program categories.
  • Ensure that relief funds are not restricted to program expenses.
  • Create a 30-day priority period for performing arts organizations due to state government mandated closures.
  • Candidates may not be required to provide matching funds for any of these relief programs.
  • Provide grants as advances, not reimbursements.
  • Increase the size of the Arts Funding to make be commensurate with the scope of the sector-wide devastation, estimated at over $900M.

Eligibility - direct Empire State Development and NYSCA to use the following eligibility criteria:

  • Candidates for grants would be defined as nonprofit or private for-profit, independently operated live-performance venues, promoters, production companies, and/or performance-related businesses located in New York State who were forced to shut down, operate at reduced capacity, or directly impacted due to government-mandated health orders.
  • Candidates must identify as arts and culture organizations or arts-related businesses whose primary business is presenting or supporting live performances by discipline- based artists, and must show that 70% of their business is generated from live events, and may not be owned, operated by, or majority programmed by a publicly traded company. These types of organizations include venues, producers, promoters, and the ancillary businesses included but not limited to casting, marketing, production elements, and others.