MTN News: Tester hopeful entertainment industry will get help in stimulus bill

by Dennis Bragg

The stimulus package still needs to be finalized, but Senator Jon Tester says it looks like entertainment venues here in Montana, and across the country, may finally get their share of help dealing with the pandemic.

Tester is among the lawmakers pushing to get stimulus help for the entertainment industry, which was left out of the CARES Act last spring.

We’ve shown you how the shutdown of Montana’s music venues is having a ripple effect. Local promoter Nick Checota estimating Missoula has lost upwards of 100 millions dollars in economic impact.

“I think we’ll see a lot of consolidation in the entertainment industry if we don’t give them some help. These are these are small businesses. And so I, I think we’re going to get something. I will tell you once again, how it’s distributed, who gets the money, is still up in the air ’cause they haven’t seen the language,” said Senator Jon Tester.

The point was made by several appearing at a Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday.The concern is that without a lifeline in the stimulus bill like “Save Our Stages” or the RESTART Act, the venues and related business won’t be there when the pandemic ends.

“They’ve been dark since since March and it’s gonna take a while to get them back. And even with the vaccine, it’s going to take awhile for people to have trust. I think it’ll come back. Hopefully pretty quick, but by the same token, I think they’re looking at another six, eight, twelve months before they get back into full swing, and so they’re going to need some help,” said Tester.

And it’s not just the major cities, but smaller communities in Montana, like Three Forks and White Sulphur Springs, where events like Red Ants Pants and Rockin’ the Rivers provide a huge economic push each year.

“There’s good work being done all over the state when it comes to entertainment, and sometimes we take it for granted until we tell us not there, and then we miss it and we will have to come back when the economy opens back up. And I think that if we’re smart with this COVID package, there will be some dollars in there. It will help keep these folks alive,” said Tester.

He also notes that every dollar spent on entertainment has a multiplier of up to twelve dollars of economic impact.