‘Save Our Stages’ seeks help for struggling live music venues

By | September 11, 2020

KOCO

The fight is on to save small businesses in Oklahoma City and elsewhere after COVID-19 forced many of them to shut down.

Business owners and musicians gathered Thursday to push for legislation to “save our stages,” as the initiative is being called.

The Paramount Room’s story could be that of many of the live performance venues that were hammered by the pandemic. In 2019 the Paramount Room opened for live music and events. A little over a year later, it’s closing.

“We were simply too small and too new to weather the storm of the pandemic,” Paramount Room operating partner Jeremiah Holland said.

Although the Paramount Room is gone, Holland doesn’t want other venues to suffer the same fate. To help prop them up, he’s part of the Save Our Stages group. Many of the members are on the brink of closing as well.

“It’s been a real punch in the gut for Lyric Theatre with the loss of $2 million this season,” said Michael Baron, Lyric’s producing artistic director.

Over at Jones Assembly, musician and owner Graham Colton described the challenges.

“We’re trying to find creative ways to keep music alive, but it’s very difficult right now,” he said.

Jamie Fitzgerald of DCF concerts echoed his comments.

“In our sixth month of zero revenue, we are in dire straights,” he said.

Also weighing in with support was Tulsa native and musician with the group Hanson, Taylor Hanson.

“No industry has been hit harder than live music,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City, called for passage of the Restart Act, which would provide financial help and unemployment benefits to small businesses facing hardship.

“This is the time for us to take action – this is something that we can do They need our help now,” she said.

Horn’s opponent in the November election, Stephanie Bice, said the president has acted quickly to help small businesses in Oklahoma and across the country.

But, she said, “We do need to consider additional (Paycheck Protection Program) dollars that are very targeted that would help those industries that continue to struggle.”