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The Scoop Behind Save our Stages

What is NIVA? And what is this #saveourstages hashtag? Learn more about this collaborative initiative that’s trying to save America’s independent venues.

Arts Midwest President + CEO Torrie Allen recently interviewed Hal Real, Founder and CEO of World Café Live and a Founding Board Member of the National Independent Venues Association during the 2020 Artist Thr!ve Summit. NIVA is the organization behind the bi-partisan Save our Stages Act, which would help independent venues – arguably the industry hardest hit by the pandemic – receive the financial assistance needed to be able to reopen their doors when it is safe to do so. Here are some key takeaways from their conversation.

“In my two decades in arts administration, this act stands out as remarkable.”
- Torrie Allen

What is NIVA?

[NIVA: National Independent Venues Association]

We are independent venues, comedy clubs, performing arts centers, promoters. We’re from all 50 states. Every city, town, and village in America has cool places to go for the performing arts. We are for-profit and nonprofit.

And what we have in common is so much more important than what divides us.

When the COVID-19 crisis hit we formed NIVA and invited a broad group of people to join. The price of membership has always been $0. Because how can you ask for anything from these artists and venues when their incomes have disappeared?

We created this coalition because we know that we’re the first to close and we’ll be the last to reopen. You can’t mount a season with unknowns. It will take a while to get it back.

Tell us about the Save our Stages Act. What did you do and how did you do it?

The campaign has been massive. Our members’ fans sent over 2 million emails to Congress as we made it really simple for them to do so.

We were in Rolling Stone, CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, and late-night TV talk shows. We have Chuck Schumer and Jerry Seinfeld talking about Save our Stages.

It’s become a movement.

What’s next for NIVA?

We dream about what we’ll get to do post-pandemic, like sharing best practices and helping people get better health insurance. But ultimately, we want to help venues be more engaged with their communities – do community education programs, create apprentice programs, diversify the industry.

We know that investment needs to be made to preserve our independent industry, and NIVA needs to be the one to make that investment.

This work isn’t easy. How are you staying motivated?

I’m thriving on meeting new people on this journey. We’re all in this together. Whether you have a venue, a promoter, or a fan, we really all need to ensure that our industry survives in order for our society to survive. I’ve met some amazing people.

At the end of the day, we’ve got to work together and get through this because we want to be able to get together when this is over.

How can people get involved?

Visit our website to learn how you can take action to Save our Stages.

Talk to your local, state, and federal representatives and let them know how important the live, performing arts are to you. Write an op-ed and speak up.

We’re part of an important ecosystem and we want to ensure and enhance that ecosystem over the long-term.