Nationwide, 90% of Independent Music Venues May Close Due to Pandemic

An advocacy group that represents music venue owners and promoters has been lobbying Congress to support the Save our Stages Act

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on numerous industries, including independent music venues, and according to a national survey of professionals, approximately 90% of clubs could close if they don't receive government assistance.

And Chicago is no exception.

The 90% statistic was featured in a new video created to highlight the plight of music venues, featuring music from the band "Varaha" and showcasing 17 establishments from across the area.

"I think as artists, it's our responsibility to help the music community and artistic community of Chicago," said Fabio Brienza, a vocalist and guitarist with "Varaha" who also directed the film.

For one establishment owner, Dave Jemilo, of the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in the Uptown neighborhood, the pandemic has been terrible for his business.

Jemilo secured a permit to serve drinks out doors, but even that will soon come to an end.

"If you can’t be open then you have no income coming in... You can only last so long," he said. "If something doesn’t happen by the end of the year, a lot of venues are never going to open again."

The National Independent Venue Association, an advocacy group that represents music venue owners and promoters, has been lobbying Congress to support the Save our Stages Act, a bill that would provide six months of financial support for struggling venues.

"The live event industry is experiencing upwards of 90% revenue loss and will be closed well into 2021 due to safety concerns posed by large gatherings," according to a letter from the NIVA. "Without support from Congress, 90% of NIVA’s independent venues across America say they will be forced to close their doors forever."

The association said live events account for 75% of all artists’ income, and for every $1 ​spent on a ticket at small venues, a total of $12 in economic activity is generated at nearby restaurants, hotels and retail establishments. 

To support Chicago's favorite live music spots, visit and send a letter to local representatives in Congress.

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