BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Local live music and performance venues are set to receive relief money in the near future as part of the latest COVID-19 relief legislation that President Trump signed into law Sunday.
This round of relief includes the Save Our Stages Act, which sets aside $15 billion to help those types of venues across the country. The bill was co-authored by Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
“Our revenue is way down, significantly less than 2019,” President of Downtown Bryan’s Grand Stafford Theater Jose Quintana said. “We’re probably about 80% under our expected revenue for the year.”
The Grand Stafford Theater is the oldest venue in Downtown Bryan and has been open for only one week since the pandemic began. The driving force behind the legislation is to save local venues that help preserve any given community’s unique cultural flare.
“We are a community development venue that happens to have a bar, but really our main mission is to help community efforts and contribute to the heritage preservation of our community,” Quintana said.
Quintana and the theater were actually one of the original members of an alliance of venues from across the state who got in touch with Cornyn and lobbied for specific relief legislation.
“We tried to get behind some sort of a package that could help live music venues because of their heritage aspect within the economic development framework of the state of Texas,” Quintana said. “Senator Cornyn was kind enough to co-sponsor the bill.”
Quintana projects the theater will receive roughly 40-45% of its 2019 operational expenditures. He says much of that money will be used for mortgage payments, rent, utilities, expenses from fulfilling sanitation guidelines, and payouts to their contracted employees and staff. It’s an amount that other live music venues in downtown Bryan are thrilled will help the industry.
“I just hope some of that money is allocated to the performers who have been furloughed for the past six-plus months,” Dustin Batson, who owns the Downtown Elixir & Spirits Company, among other similar establishments in town, said.
Few groups have been hit harder by the shutdowns caused by the pandemic than live performers and the venues where they captivate their audiences. Cornyn’s Office says 90% of venue owners, promoters, and bookers report they are at risk of closing without additional financial assistance and an estimated $9 billion in losses should ticket sales not resume until 2021.
The grant program is designed to keep important pieces of local heritage like the Grand Stafford Theater from disappearing nationwide.
“We need to preserve that and continue to offer that experience to not only our community friends, but people that come from other countries,” Quintana said.
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