The MIVPA organization will lobby for $10 million in state funding to assist concert venues and promoters devastated by the 2020 pandemic. Details at Local Spins.
Michigan concert promoters and music venues have joined forces in a new trade association that’s lobbying lawmakers for $10 million in grants to rescue the state’s live music industry, which has been crippled by COVID-19.
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Scott Hammontree, managing partner for Grand Rapids’ The Intersection, said the new trade group – Michigan Independent Venue and Promoter Association (MIVPA) – gives promoters and music venues “a collective voice” as they scramble for survival.
“Our venues and fans have made enough noise to get the attention of some legislators,” he said. “We hope the new organization and lobbying efforts help complete a bridge to the other side of this.”
More than 70 of Michigan’s live music venues have been shuttered since March due to the pandemic, and members of the new trade group include many high-profile businesses, including The Intersection, Kalamazoo State Theatre, Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up and Bay City’s Historic Masonic Temple. Festival operators are also part of the new association.
Formation of the Michigan-based group follows creation earlier this year of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which now represents more than 2,000 independent venues in all 50 states, working to secure federal assistance for live music businesses as part of the #SaveOurStages movement.
Concert venues have been hit especially hard during the COVID pandemic, unable to open due to health restrictions, social-distancing requirements and the near complete shutdown of all touring.
Michelle Hanks, co-owner of the Seven Steps Up listening room, noted that formation of the Michigan group was necessary to address problems specific to venues across the state.
“NIVA was specifically for federal support and does not address any individual state potential support,” she told Local Spins.
“In addition, we the group has never really worked together or had reason to discuss challenges. Many of us felt that since we had started a conversation that there could be some value in a collective voice addressing some other challenges we face.”
A PROPER WAY TO ENGAGE A LOBBYING FIRM AND TO SHARE IDEAS
The new trade group, Hammontree said, “really grew naturally from discussions” among Michigan’s NIVA members.
“With the success of NIVA, it only made sense for us to organize here in the State of Michigan. Initially it gives us a proper way to engage a lobbying firm here and provides accountability for funds raised and dispersed,” he said.
“Many of our venue and festival reps have expressed an interest in working together in the future on a variety of things and this gives us a natural landing point to have those conversations. Having a group like this also gives us the opportunity to share best practices and at some point we will all be looking at reopening, and being able to share ideas and procedures to do that safely will be important.”Hanks noted a survey of Michigan venues indicated that state assistance totaling $10 million to provide grants for six months was “the number we believe we need” to cover overhead costs and stay solvent.
While the closed concert venues are hoping to get that assistance before the end of the year, she recognizes this might be difficult to achieve. And there are other plans competing for COVID relief: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed a $100 million relief plan for families and small businesses.
“It’s a long shot, but if we can rally Michigan music lovers to the cause it is still possible,” Hanks said.
To date, despite having an estimated $667 million impact on Michigan’s economy, venues and promoters have not received any federal or state assistance. Hammontree said MIVPA “wants to change that on the state level” by working with lobbyists, led by Kelley Cawthorne of Lansing.
Hammontree, NIVA’s state team captain, noted the “fiercely independent” music industry has rarely seen this type of collaboration among venues and promoters.
The new association is requesting music fans and venue supporters to visit SaveMIStages.com online to write letters of support to the state’s elected officials.
Hammontree said the $10 million fund would help keep venues afloat “until the day we can operate our businesses.”
Some venues and promoters may not make it until the fall, he added, so MIVPA would like to see the new fund created by the end of January at the latest.
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC