Hearing Highlights COVID Impacts on Live Entertainment – Cantwell Continues Push for COVID Relief: “We Need to Act Now”

December 15, 2020

TV Quality Video | Audio |Transcript

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress continues to debate a new round of COVID-19 relief funding for families and businesses impacted by the ongoing pandemic, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, spoke today at a Commerce subcommittee hearing about the impacts the pandemic has had on the live entertainment industry. In a Q&A with witnesses, Cantwell highlighted the devastating losses the industry has faced as a result of the pandemic, both in the State of Washington and around the country. She also continued her push for Congress to quickly pass new legislation to provide financial relief for the millions of small businesses and families impacted nationwide, including thousands of venues and independent artists.

“A survey by the Washington Nightlife Music Association found that without relief, 63% of our states’ independently own clubs would have no choice but to permanently close,” Ranking Member Cantwell said. “Even in Spokane, The Pin, a staple of the music scene there, closed its doors, and independent venues like Spokane Arena, the Knitting Factory, Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, and many others are impacted by these closures and looking for relief. So, when I hear these comments this morning and our colleagues, you’d think this would just be a slam dunk, that we could just, if nothing else, just go ahead and pass legislation. For us, it’s 38,000 Washingtonians, about a $2.4 billion music industry, overall, so we don't want to see permanent closure, because it's very hard to start these again.”

Senator Cantwell asked Mr. Michael Strickland, owner of the lighting company Bandit Lites, exactly what employees and performers in the entertainment industry have dealt with throughout this crisis.

Mr. Strickland said, To answer your question, 30% of the businesses have closed. We're not having a conversation at this moment about what might happen. We're having a conversation about what has happened and what is happening, and what will continue to happen. The smaller companies and what we now call the gig workers, those people have already shifted out of this space…they’ve left the industry that they love, some never to return. We anticipate 20-30% will never return to this space. Some of the smaller companies have shuttered and folded and lost all of their assets through auction, and of course that money doesn't go to them…Most of our industry is hanging on by a thread.”

Cantwell responded, “We have got to get our colleagues to understand, we need to act now on this legislation.”