Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and other locals held a press conference in front of Baby's All Right in Williamsburg on Tuesday to announce support for bipartisan legislation meant to provide financial relief to independent live venues that are struggling during the pandemic.

“Independent venues, like theaters and concert halls, are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the economy. These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to reopen,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why it’s so important to provide dedicated federal assistance to independent venues so when it is safe, we can gather again for music, comedy, theater and other live performances in venues that have been around for generations. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Save Our Stages Act, and I’ll fight to include federal funding for independent venues in any coronavirus relief legislation.”  

Earlier this month, a group of over 100 independent music venues in NYC joined forces to form New York Independent Venue Association (NYIVA), which is working in affiliation with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to try to get politicians to vote for in favor of the Save Our Stages and Restart bills, which would provide financial relief for venues during this period when most are completely shut down. Without those federal funds, they estimate that 90% of indie venues will be forced to close permanently.

“These venues are places that occupy parts of cities that nobody wants to be in when they start," said Murphy, who in addition to being the frontman of LCD Soundsystem, also owns a wine bar and cafe in Williamsburg. "They fill in the gaps and communities spring up around them. They take those warehouses that nobody wanted to be in and they build places that foster the most diverse music scene in the world. Thank you to the venues that let me play and let me work for the 30 years I’ve lived here. We’re not going to be able to rebuild these from zero. You can’t knock out all the mom and pops and think that more mom and pops will spring up. If we knock them out, it’s just chains."

Other venue operators at the press conference included Cris Italia of The Stand, Grace Blake of Iridium, Dhruv Chopra of Elsewhere, Billy Jones of Baby's All Right, independent artist Sean McVerry, Kae Burke of House Of Yes, and NIVA Executive Director Rev Moose. You can watch the press conference in full below.

According to NYIVA and NIVA, it will take a New York independent venue on average $300K to sustain itself if it remains closed until 2021; live streaming has yet to become a viable source of revenue, with the average New York venue's monthly profits from such events and merchandise coming out to about $375 (after labor and cost of goods). They add, "On average, a New York venue already has $150,000 their landlord could claim in arrears and more than 80% of venues have no definitive arrangement with their landlords."

You can learn more about the campaign here.

A separate group, NYC Nightlife United (NNU), has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to be able to administer emergency grants to shuttered venue spaces and staff members, prioritizing those by and for POC and LGBTQIA communities.

"While we’re hard at work to secure larger donations from sponsors willing to truly step up for NYC’s cultural community, we’re also asking individuals with the means and ability to pitch in and help save these spaces," they wrote in a statement. "We need your help to ensure these spaces, pivotal spaces for release for marginalized communities, are still there once it’s safe to gather again. "