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House Passes New Stimulus Package Benefitting Music Creators, Venues & Businesses
Encouraging news for creators arrived this week from Washington, as the House of Representatives voted late Thursday on an updated version of the HEROES Act. The new $2.2 trillion, creator-friendly relief bill includes numerous provisions that would provide critical assistance to the music community.
The HEROES Act serves as an important step in the bipartisan negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans. All week long, Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin engaged in a series of negotiations, and they remain committed to reaching a deal that can be signed into law.
“The Recording Academy is gratified that this legislation includes support for music creators and thanks Speaker Pelosi and the legislators involved," said Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. "As an organization that is the voice of music professionals who are deeply impacted by the current economy, we hope that all parties will work together to forge a compromise that will be signed into law as quickly as possible.”
While negotiations continue, let's take a look at what the new HEROES Act means for music makers, venues, professionals, businesses and more.
The new act would restore the enhanced $600 weekly unemployment payment for all out-of-work workers, which would be secured through next January. The updated HEROES Act has also improved unemployment payments for self-employed individuals with “mixed-earner” income—a combination of both 1099 and W2 incomes – who received diminished payments due to an unintended problem with the CARES Act. To rectify this issue, the new bill includes a $125 additional payment for qualified “mixed earner” workers. This element of the bill is an essential component for music professionals who remain out of work, including those with gigs cancelled into 2021.
Performance Venue Support
Few businesses have been hit as hard as music venues during the pandemic. The updated HEROES Act would provide $10 billion for closed venues and stages through inclusion of the Save our Stages Act, which is a Small Business Administration grant program that would provide six months of support for independent live music venues. This funding is critical for venues to be able to pay the capital expenses associated with social distancing, COVID-incurred costs and regular operation.
Support for the Arts
The bill includes $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support emergency grants to the greater arts community. An independent federal agency, the NEA helps support participation in the arts nationwide, celebrating America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and bringing arts access and education to generations of urban and rural communities. With new challenges facing the arts, this additional funding reflects the Recording Academy's call for – and Congress' commitment to – inspiring and supporting future creators.
Small Business Loans
As the pandemic continues into another new month, many small businesses continue to struggle for survival. Thankfully, similar to many of the provisions of the RESTART Act, the new bill includes more flexible loan programs to better serve the hardest hit small businesses. It also provides dedicated business loans and protections for minority-owned small businesses, sole proprietorships, and self-employed entities.
Today, as many as 1,500 venues, studios, and music businesses across the country will be lit in red in solidarity to urge #Congress to pass the critical RESTART Act as quickly as possible. #RedAlertRESTART https://t.co/GyHeasKkgI
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) September 1, 2020
At a time when the music community remains in desperate need of support, the updated HEROES Act is responsive to the needs of the music ecosystem and an important step towards making our community whole, but more work needs to be done to get a bipartisan package through Congress and signed into law. And while this $2.2 trillion stimulus bill faces an uncertain future, its passage indicates Congressional leadership has heard the voices of Academy members and music advocates.