GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Venues and promoters are banning together to form an association to lobby for financial aid in a new effort to save the music industry during the pandemic.
The owner of The Intersection, Scott Hammontree, is behind the movement and says without it, the curtain could fall forever.
If you have been to a concert at The Intersection, Van Andel Arena or even a smaller venue like the Tip Top Deluxe Bar and Grill, you know the power of live music.
“It’s small venues like this where people get their start,” said Ted Smith, co-owner of Tip Top. “We’ve had Grammy winners play here, we’ve had Rock & Roll Hall of Famers.”
Performances exited the stage in March and haven’t returned.
“It’s been devastating,” said Hammontree fighting back tears. “It’s been one of the toughest challenges I think we’ve ever faced. It bothers me more for my staff.”
Hammontree turned that passion into action by forming the Michigan Independent Venue Promoter Association, a local version of the National Independent Venue Association.
There are currently 15 members, but it’s growing. The idea is that one loud voice will be heard over many small voices. The group is now asking the state legislature for $20 million. At the federal level, a bill called Save our Stages is being pushed which would provide $15 billion in grants for arts and entertainment venues.
Smith says without financial relief, Tip Top won’t survive. He and others are hoping the state will see the economic value of investing in these venues.
“We don’t usually ask for much … we are desperate,” Hammontree said. ” … and what happens to the restaurants across the street?”
If not for the money, MIVPA is hoping the state will invest for the joy a performance provides.
“I think it’s import for people to have a couple of hours to come here and sing and dance and not worry about anything,” Hammontree said.