The Arizona Republic
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema spoke out on behalf of Phoenix music venues at a Senate hearing called Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Live Event Entertainment Industry on Tuesday.
The hearing looked at the challenges faced by artists and venues, as well as supporting industries such as lighting and transportation. It also examined proposals for legislative relief, unemployment compensation and healthcare subsidies.
Sinema, D-Ariz., spoke of “a vibrant entertainment economy that breeds thousands of jobs and provides Arizonans with opportunities to enjoy art, theater, music and sports” while also drawing tourists to the state.
“I’m hearing daily from Arizonans and Arizona small businesses in the entertainment industry that are struggling to stay afloat as our venues are closed or strictly limited due to the pandemic,” Sinema continued.
About ‘Save Our Stages’ and the RESTART Act
Sinema is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Save Our Stages legislation and the RESTART Act.
The Save Our Stages Act provides $15 billion to support independent clubs, theaters, concert halls and movie theaters that meet certain criteria.
The RESTART Act includes a new loan program to support businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the bipartisan COVID discussions continue, I will continue encouraging my colleagues to provide assistance to Arizona’s entertainment industry,” Sinema said.
In the course of the hearing, Sinema spoke of COVID-19’s impact on the fate of Harkins Theatres, the Rhythm Room, the Rebel Lounge and the Rialto Theatre.
Harkins, she said, has experienced a 95% drop in revenue since the pandemic began.
The Rhythm Room, Sinema said, is supposed to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2021 and had to launch a GoFundMe campaign last week because they’re in danger of closing after nine months with no revenue.
The Rialto Theatre in Tucson, she said, hosted more than 400 shows in 2019 and only 68 in 2020, all before March 12.
She also noted that the Rebel Lounge’s owner, Stephen Chilton, who’s also the vice president of a lobbying group called the National Independent Venue Association, told her the PPP program didn’t work well for his business.
Chilton says it’s “a great relief” to see so much support for Arizona venues and promoters from Sinema.
“She has been a strong supporter of the Save Our Stages act from the beginning,” Chilton said.
“Arizona’s venues desperately need support to survive the pandemic and I am confident that with all the bipartisan support the Save Our Stages act has, it will be included in the COVID relief bill in Congress right now.”
It’s Chilton’s hope that the Save Our Stages Act will “bring relief to everyone needing help right now. Not just the venues.”