San Francisco music venue owners ‘cautiously optimistic’ about new COVID relief bill

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Congress passed its second stimulus bill Monday night but this time a chunk of it is dedicated to live music and performance venues.

It includes up to $15 billion in grants for the venues that have been shuttered since mid-March. Places like Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco.

Owners at independent music venues are cautiously optimistic.

They say this is something they desperately need to make it through to the end of this pandemic but they worry after seeing the misproportion of PPP loans given to larger restaurant groups over smaller ones just barely getting by.

Congress passed a new $900 billion stimulus package Monday night, dedicating $15 billion to live music venues and theaters.

San Francisco venue owners like Lynn Schwarz says this is something the entertainment industry desperately needs.

“The ticket sales and the bar sales we have zero now. In fact as soon as the pandemic hit, it began the process of issuing refund after refund,” Schwarz said. 

Schwarz owns Bottom of the Hill Rock Club in San Francisco and says she’s cautiously optimistic about the stimulus bill after seeing the handling of the paycheck protection program or PPP loans, where many large restaurant groups benefitted more than smaller ones just getting by.

“No one really believes that it’s going to be distributed fairly and I am again cautiously optimistic,” Schwarz said. 

Unlike the PPP loans, this new round of cultural funds are grants and don’t include payback provisions.

The bill allows independent entertainment businesses to apply for grants through the small business administration. Applicants must have lost at least 25% of their revenue to qualify and those who lost 90% will be the first to apply. The grants have a cap of $10 million per entity.

“I don’t know a venue that hasn’t lost 90% of its income so to me that’s all of us. I’m just really hoping this money trickles down the venues that are small and medium-sized,” Schwarz said.

Nightclub owners at the Stud share the same hope. 

They announced an official closure at its 9th Street location in May knowing it would be drowning in debt by the end of the pandemic. 

While co-owner Maria Davis says this isn’t the end of the Stud, she hopes this aid l will keep other clubs from having to make that difficult decision.

“Clubs like the Stud and many others are the soul of the city. It’s really what makes the culture and this funding will hopefully give us a lifeline to stay afloat,” Davis said. 

Concert venue and nightclubs owners say this isn’t the end of the fight.

They say this stimulus bill is a life line to stay open just a little longer but more help is needed.

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