Chicago music club owners prepare for a COVID winter

Chicago music venues are busy, booking indoor shows and concerts for the winter. But with a surge of COVID, business owners are worried.

why is it important: At this time last year, the halls were closed. Although federal funding helped save the Chicago stages, this winter will be a critical time.

What they say“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we know venues are bracing for a tough winter,” Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) co-chair Billy Helmkamp told Axios. “No place feels fully rebounded.”

  • “As the cases increase, it becomes increasingly clear that the road back will not be without obstacles.”

What is happening: Congress passed the $16 billion grant for closed venue operators this year, which has certainly helped venues financially.

Yes, but: Despite being passed in January 2021, most sites have not seen the grant money until months laterand some are still waiting.

  • “The vast majority of CIVL member sites that applied have now received federal funding,” CIVL co-chair Katie Tuten told Axios. “However, not all members have been awarded. Some have been denied and others are currently on appeal.”
  • The interception reported that the places were frustrated with the SBA and its seemingly arbitrary decision-making on grants.

The big picture: At the start of the pandemic, there were predictions that many independent music venues would fail. In Chicago, that turned out not to be the case.

  • “Thankfully, we haven’t had any permanent closures among our members, thanks in part to the strong ecosystem of our independent sites,” said CIVL Board Member Jennifer Estlin. “As has been said, we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.”

Fun fact: Chicago has more live music venues than Austin, Nashville and New Orleans combined.

  • Ironically, the city of Chicago has dubbed 2020 “the year of Chicago music”. The city has extended the celebration until 2021.

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