Pandemic Hitting Local Concert Venues Hard

Sep 2, 2020, 9:09 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Many businesses, including bars and restaurants, are inching their way back to normal — but not concerts.

Back in March, the crowd at The State Room left, not knowing that they wouldn’t be back anytime soon. Now, locally-owned small venues like this one are making a plea for help from lawmakers.

“I usually just go with the month and that day, like ‘Septem-day,'” said Darin Piccoli, co-owner of State Room Presents.

The days are starting to blend together for Piccoli and Christ Mautz, who were forced to close their venues on March 11.

A new report suggested 90% of independent venues will be forced to shut down if help doesn’t come soon.

“You know the caveat is don’t get together in large groups, and certainly don’t do it together indoors,” Mautz said.

They said the pandemic has left them with no options.

“That’s our business — to bring people together and enjoy each other’s company,” Piccoli said.

“We have canceled 100 shows,” Mautz added.

State Room Presents has a couple of venues around Salt Lake City, which received assistance from the paycheck protection program. But that didn’t cover costs for mortgages and leases.

With no room to open safely, the owners said they think it’s time for the government to help small venues like themselves from closing with the Restart Act and Save Our Stages Act.

“We aren’t open at 20% capacity,” Piccoli said. “We aren’t doing curbside concerts. We need specific industry help.”

Just as arts and culture were grabbing the spotlight in Salt Lake City, it went dim.

“It’s the icing on the cake and if there is no cake, there is no icing,” Mautz said.

Both venue owners were committed to slowing the spread of the virus, but they’re grabbing the microphone to call out for some help to make sure music can one day return to their stage.

“I think more for me it’s the fear of not knowing what it is going to be like when we come back,” Mautz said. “Can we come back in a way that does build to get back to what it was?”

Both the Restart and Save Our Stages acts were introduced to Congress this summer. But they have been stuck in committees, not advancing to the floor for a vote in the Senate or House.

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Pandemic Hitting Local Concert Venues Hard