At Hearing on Future of Live Entertainment, Tester Urges Support for Montana’s Independent Music Venues

Senator: “We’ve got to come together, and we’ve got to help the economy”

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the future of live entertainment today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester heard testimony on the dire circumstances facing independent music venues in Montana and across the country and urged support for his bills aimed at helping music venues survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Tester slammed Congress for failing to provide relief to music venues, many of which are at risk of going out of business due to the pandemic.

“I don’t know if you guys are frustrated because we continue not to do anything, but it frustrates the hell out of me,” Tester said. “You guys are sitting out there, you’ve been impacted by something you don’t have any control over…but you’re getting submarined by this damn coronavirus.”

Noting that live music is an economic multiplier –$1 in ticket sales generates $12 for the local economy – Tester urged Congress to pass his measures aimed at supporting live music venues, including his Entertainments New Credit Opportunity for Relief & Economic Sustainability (ENCORES) Act, a bill that will create a new tax credit for live entertainment venues with fewer than 500 employees to help cover the cost of refunded tickets for shows that were canceled due to the pandemic, and the bipartisan Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act which would create a long-term, partially forgivable loan program that targets small- and mid-sized businesses devastated by the public health crisis.

Tester is also a sponsor of the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, which would provide Small Business Administration grants for independent music venue operators to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across Montana.

“I’m going to continue to make sure that we get these bills across the finish line,” Tester said. “…in the end, we’ve got to come together, and we’ve got to help the economy.”

Tester’s full Q&A is available HERE.