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A&E

Lucky You Lounge, Knitting Factory urge support for federal financial assistance

UPDATED: Thu., May 7, 2020

Brian Marshall, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge perform at the Knitting Factory on Feb. 27 in downtown Spokane. (Chuck Brueckmann)
Brian Marshall, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge perform at the Knitting Factory on Feb. 27 in downtown Spokane. (Chuck Brueckmann)
By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Local live music venues Lucky You Lounge and the Knitting Factory have joined a new coalition of independent concert venues from across the country seeking further assistance from the federal government to survive the crushing blow the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered to their businesses.

The National Independent Venue Association is comprised of more than 1,200 of the most influential independent music venues and promoters across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. NIVA’s members, such as Lucky You Lounge and Knitting Factory, are urging live music attendees, arts lovers and community members to write and call their senators and representatives to request that financial support for small businesses extend to live music venues.

For local venues such as Lucky You, Knitting Factory, the Pin and the Big Dipper, without help, they might not survive the negative economic effects of the pandemic, according to Lucky You co-owner Caleb Ingersoll.

“Music venues will be the last to open from the shutdown and most likely will have limited capacity for quite some time,” Ingersoll said. “We personally don’t see concerts resuming until fall and at a reduced capacity. Music venues rely on large crowds buying alcohol to survive. Without the crowd, sales will be extremely limited.”

“Due to the unique circumstances that have led to the indefinite closure of our industry – resulting in zero revenue for the foreseeable future – NIVA has requested specific funding programs to assist for the duration of the government’s mandatory shutdown,” said NIVA member Audrey Fix Schaefer in a news release. Schaefer is the communications director of the company that owns the iconic D.C. music venue the 9:30 Club.

NIVA issued a letter April 22 with specific program requests to U.S. Congressional leaders in April. The recommendations include increasing the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program’s loan cap and extending the program until all affected businesses can resume operations at full capacity.

Other requests include granting various forms of tax relief, establishing a business recovery grant fund and continuing unemployment insurance for contract workers and artists who typically wouldn’t be extended such protections.

“We need grants, not loans,” Ingersoll said. “We already have loans and debt. Arts need to be supported in a bigger way because people rely on them.”

“The goal is to enable independent venues to survive the crisis, reopen in the future and once again contribute to the economic revival of our communities,” Schaefer wrote.

NIVA cited a Chicago study estimating that for every $1 spent on a ticket at small venues, $12 in economic activity is generated in communities on restaurants, hotels, taxis and retail establishments. So while Spokane businesses such as Lucky You and Knitting Factory are small, the estimated direct annual economic impact the nation’s indie music venues bring to local communities is nearly $10 billion.

Lucky You, located at 1802 W. Sunset Blvd, is a 320-person capacity venue that features two stages, a restaurant and a bar. Knitting Factory, at 919 W. Sprague Ave., is a 1,500-person capacity concert house with a bar.

In an email Lucky You sent to patrons May 5, the venue makes the case that creative sector jobs and businesses help fuel Spokane’s economy and make the city a desirable place to live.

“Together with you, we have played a role in bringing Spokane to life and furthering the careers of countless artists,” Lucky You wrote. “Now independent venues like ours are at risk, and we need you to tell our senators and representatives how important Lucky You is to you and Spokane.”

More information and templates of support letters can be found at NIVA’s website at nivassoc.org.

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