GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Independent concert venues across West Michigan are urging lawmakers to pass a pair of bills that would help them navigate the COVID-related shutdowns.
“Our business has been completely and entirely devastated,” Scott Hammontree, an operating partner at The Intersection, told FOX 17 Thursday afternoon.
“When this first started we were among the first businesses that had too close."
The last show hosted in any of the 4 performance spaces within The Intersection's building was on March 12.
Hammontree says the venue kept many of their office staff around for as long as possible. As it became clear that the shutdown would last longer than first expected, they had to furlough almost all of their employees.
“On top of shutting down, we have massive amounts of ticket refunds that we have to give to our customers,” he said.
“So not only do we have zero cash flow, we're actually negative cash flow.”
The Intersection will typically host around 320 live events a year.
With these concerts and other live events canceled for the foreseeable future, the state's economy is taking a big hit.
“Just in Michigan alone, our concert venues have a $600 million impact. We employ 2400 people, not including the band members," Hammontree told FOX 17.
“It reaches everybody that either works or goes to a show or has kids that want to go to a show.”
The Intersection has recently become a part of NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association. The group has seen it's membership rise significantly in recent weeks. Venues from across the country are teaming up.
“You're talking about venues in cities that... maybe were competitive against each other, didn't talk. We're all working together right now,” Hammontree said.
NIVA's main goal right now is to push through 2 bills that would provide some financial support to independent venues.
Hammontree told FOX 17 on Thursday, “There are two meaningful pieces of legislation. There's the RESTART act. And there's the Save Our Stages act. Save Our Stages act was really tailored for concert venues and independent talent agencies. It really fits us extremely well."
He says the bills are vital to the survival of venues throughout the United States.
“If you want to see live music again and you want to see it soon, in your favorite venues, now's the time to go to saveourstages.com... It takes 30 seconds. It would mean the world to us," Hammontree said.
You can fill out a form that will be sent to legislators at the Save Our Stages website HERE.