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Local live music venues hope to survive COVID closures with help from fans

Fall Out Boy performs on stage at Showbox Downtown during iHeartRadio LIVE and Verizon bring you Fall Out Boy in Seattle on Nov. 11, 2019, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Seattle could lose its music venues unless fans step up to help keep clubs alive.

Seattle Symphony creates ‘hospital grade environment’ to bring back the music

Over the weekend, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) hosted “Save our Stages,” an online music festival featuring 35 artists performing at dozens of clubs and venues nationwide. In Seattle, rapper Macklemore performed at Neumos on Friday. The association is trying to raise money to help clubs across the United States stay open through and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

As NIVA states on its website, these independent venues “were the first to close,” and “will be the last to open.” NIVA is asking for long-term assistance for businesses impacted by closures, relief through tax credits, and continued unemployment insurance benefits.

Additionally, a new local organization called Keep Music Live is aiming to raise $10 million for small venues in Washington state with a capacity of less than 1,000. The group says if the music clubs close, they will be repurposed for condos and other businesses, and will be gone forever.

Neumos’ co-owner Steven Severin told KIRO 7 TV that he can’t imagine a Seattle without live music.

“That’s what we do, we put people together to make them happy. And I can’t imagine Seattle or the state of Washington without music venues,” Severin said.

The organization, Severin explained, is asking everyone who goes to shows and “cares about Seattle culture” to donate and pitch in.

“It’s really eerie to go in there and just see the emptiness,” Severin said.

He also recognizes, unfortunately, that when the debt piles up too high there’s often just one option.

“There gets to be a point where you look at the amount of debt that you’ll have, and you have to walk away,” he said.

Washington arts organizations expected to exhaust funds by November

The Save our Stages music event continued throughout the weekend. You can watch, or re-watch, the performances online here. Donate to Keep Music Live online here.

KIRO 7 TV and the KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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