As The Beatles song goes, sometimes you just need a bit of helping getting your feet back on the ground. Houston’s music sector is about to get just that, thanks to the new Musicians and Music Venues Economic Relief Program. The new aid program, which was announced by city leaders last week, has been created using $3 million of the city’s allocated CARES Act 2020 funds.

"As a city, we have provided rental assistance and supported small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, we will focus on Houston's musicians. Music venues, and iconic performance spaces are a big part of our city and an important segment of Houston's cultural life," Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. "They were delivering great live music before the pandemic, and we want them to be able to do that again, as soon as they can, and by being safe."

Eligible musicians will receive up to $5,000, and eligible music venues can receive up to $50,000 or $100,000, depending on the size of their budget, according to a press release. To qualify, musicians and venues must live/be located within the city limits; must provide evidence of how business revenue has decreased because of challenges created by the pandemic; and must be in good financial standing with the city. A weighted scoring matrix will be used to ensure funds are distributed equitably.  

While many across the job market have struggled during the pandemic, musicians and venues have faced especially dire straits as they remain separated from the crowds their livelihoods depend on. According to We Make Events, a national coalition of live-event industry workers, 95 percent of live events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, and 77 percent of people in the industry have lost their income.

Even scarier, a survey taken this summer by the National Independent Venue Association found that 90 percent of independent venues said they would have to permanently shutter if government support was not provided. The Bayou City is home to 1,400 independent music venues, many of which have been closed for the bulk of the pandemic, though some, including White Oak Music Hall, Satellite Bar, and Heights Theater, have opened to limited crowds in recent weeks. 

Applications for the Musicians and Music Venues Economic Relief Program are being accepted through 5 p.m. Nov 25. More info at houstoncaresaboutmusic.org.

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