Chicago: Want live music back? Wear a mask and call Congress.

ILLUSTRATION BY RACHEL HAWLEY

Staff from 22 Chicago music venues talk about how far they still are from normal—and what it’ll take to keep them around till we all get there.

“Independent music venues were among the first businesses undone by COVID-19. They rallied quickly to launch the National Independent Venue Association, which in April began publicly urging congressional leaders to help—at that point it had more than 800 member venues, and that number has since topped 2,000. NIVA is pushing the federal government to create new initiatives to support small businesses such as music venues, most of which will remain closed until the rollout of a vaccine. The Paycheck Protection Program built into the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) has done little to address the problems venues face, largely because 75 percent of PPP money must go toward payroll in order for the loans to be forgivable. Many venues are barely paying anyone—they remain completely shut down, with no source of revenue at all—and thus they’ve got more to worry about from rent and other overhead expenses.”

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