While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of businesses to scale their operations, entertainment venues across the United States have been incomplete lockdown mode for more than three months now.

That means not a dime of revenue since sometime in March, and a number of these establishments now say they're in danger of never reopening their doors.

There is some proposed relief on the way.

The Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act is working its way through the United States Congress.

The bill, which was first introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Todd Young (R-Indiana) and now has a companion bill in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), would create, among other things, a new loan program to provide funding to cover 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A share of the loan will be forgiven based on the revenue losses suffered by the business in 2020 with the remainder being repaid over 7 years. No interest payments are due in the first year, and no principal payments are due for the first two years.

One of the groups that would benefit from the passage of the RESTART Act is the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which includes a handful of South Dakota facilities, including The District and Levitt at the Falls in Sioux Falls.

This week, The District sent out a mass e-mail asking customers to lend their voices to the passage of the act, by filling out an online form that would then go to Congress.

The movement even has its own hashtag - #SaveOurStages.

You can do your part by filling out the form here.

According to the latest economic data:

  • 90% of independent concert venues expect to permanently close down in a few months if shutdowns persist and no federal funding becomes available.
  • Independent venues are forecast to lose almost $9 billion in revenue if the rest of 2020 remains dark.
  • 92% of small businesses in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry reported that the pandemic had a negative effect on their business.
  • As of mid-June, 1 in 3 leisure and entertainment business locations are closed relative to pre-pandemic levels, and 1 in 3 employees in the industry are no longer working.