AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, Congressman Roger Williams held a press conference at the legendary Broken Spoke in Austin to stress the importance of providing relief to independent live music venues through the Save Our Stages Act.
He was joined by venue owners and artists from around the Austin area to discuss how the passage of this legislation marks the difference between permanent closures and survival for the industry.
Williams helped introduce the bipartisan act along with Congressman Peter Welch and Sens. John Cornyn and Amy Klobuchar.
"Live music venues have been uniquely affected by the government’s actions during COVID-19, especially here in the Austin area. Unlike some businesses on the road to recovery, music venues that have been cultural staples for generations will continue to bear the negative impacts of the pandemic for the foreseeable future," said Congressman Williams. "I’m proud to introduce the Save Our Stages Act to help preserve these iconic venues that define states like Texas and create thousands of jobs while generating billions of dollars into our economy. It’s my hope that with the help of Congress, our venues will once again be able to open their doors to thousands of concertgoers and welcome their next act to the stage."
The $10 billion program would create a grant program through the Small Business Administration for independent live music venues facing devastation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Music is my life. After thirty years of touring coast to coast, my band and I are grateful for all the people who devote their lives to the presentation of live music," said Texas country artist Robert Earl Keen. "I’m talking about the folks who operate the bars, beer gardens, house concerts, country stores, night clubs, dance halls, sheds, festivals, and auditoriums. Bottom line, the unwavering individuals and the bands who play their venues do this for the love of live music. Live music is as much a part of our American culture and heritage as baseball. Its history actually precedes the advent of baseball, and it would be tantamount to a crime to stand by and watch our music venues die. Can you imagine trying to describe and explain to your grandchild the magic, the exhilaration, of seeing your favorite music artist perform and knowing that child may never know the joy of the live music experience?"
On the House floor in July, Congressman Williamson urged for the passing of the bill, stating:
"Austin is known as the “live music capital of the world,” and every year millions of people come from around the world to my district to enjoy concerts and events. Venues like Songbird Live in Cleburne, Hudson’s on Mercer Street in Dripping Springs, and Mohawk in Austin play a crucial role in our culture. During COVID-19, these venues have faced devastation as they were the first to close and will be among the last to reopen. In order to provide relief, I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act with my colleague Peter Welch to create a grant program that will ensure they have the resources needed to survive. American music legends that rose to fame once graced their stages that are currently empty and motionless. They moved the young and old alike and inspired the next generation of artists. It is my hope that our venues, with the help of Congress and our communities, will be able to once again welcome their next act to the stage. I urge consideration and passage of this vital bill. In God we trust, I yield back."
The act now has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: