AUSTIN, Texas - Austin’s live music venues are in serious trouble from COVID-19 shutdown orders.
Already some well-known music venues in Austin have closed their doors for good. That list includes Barracuda, Threadgills, and Shady Grove.
Steve Sternschein, co-owner of Empire Control Room and co-founder of the National Independent Venue Association, said without some financial help in the coming months, the Live Music Capital of the World will be in serious trouble.
“Of the 50 something venues in the city, there's going to be five or 10 left after this,” said Sternschein.
A University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs survey conducted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Central Texas for Business Task Force showed live music venues in Austin are currently hanging on by a thread.
“I can speak for our business. We definitely don't have very much time left if we don't get federal aid or some other kind of assistance,” Sternschein said.
Of the more than 50 music venue owners who responded to the survey, 62 percent said they will not make it past October under COVID-19 shutdown orders.
Venue owners said when the governor allowed them to reopen before shutting them back down three weeks later, it made the situation even worse because they spent money they didn't have on safety supplies.
“That survey was done before this reopening fiasco. And, so, like my instinct is that it's actually a lot more bleak. And I think that it would be amazing if we could all get to October without meaningful help,” said Sternschein.
Even with 85 percent of Austin's venues getting approved for Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government, business owners said that only addresses payroll and still leaves them without money for rent, utilities, or insurance.
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In fact, according to the survey, only 19 percent of music venues paid all of their rent in June and even those owned by large corporations are now in jeopardy.
“Those folks are also saying that they only have a few months left to live. So like that should be a good indicator of how serious this problem is. It's not maybe a couple of little places are going to go away. It's like all of the music venues in Austin are going to be gone. That's what's gonna happen really soon,” Sternschein said.
There are several ways the Austin community can help keep the music playing.
Sternschein encourages people to get involved with Save Our Stages to encourage Congress to pass the Restart Act before the session ends in a matter of weeks. The Red River Cultural District is also collecting donations to keep music industry professionals afloat.
Lastly, many local venue owners have their own fundraisers on their websites or social media pages and are selling merchandise to help with revenue losses.
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