Oklahoma Music Venues Back National Campaign For Federal Relief

Wednesday, July 29th 2020, 9:20 pm


More than 20 Oklahoma businesses have joined the national effort to pass legislation aimed at helping music venues survive the coronavirus pandemic. 

Since late February, the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City has postponed or canceled shows because of the potential public health threat. 

Stephen Tyler, a managing partner at the Tower and Ponyboy, said music venues were the first businesses to close and the last businesses to reopen.

“At the core of it, people come here to get together. With large groups of people,” Tyler said. “The energy of a concert is 500, one-thousand people crammed into a room together. Singing along, breathing heavily. All the things we’re not supposed to do right now.” 

The Tower Theatre and Ponyboy are both listed among the hundreds of venues that are in support of the Save Our Stages Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. 

A national campaign organized by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) estimates that venues have lost upwards of 90% of their revenue because of closures.

The bill would enact several measures to prevent small music venues from shuttering across the country, including the creation of federal loans. 

Tyler, along with fellow manager and artist Jabee Williams, said they’ve tried to make up for the losses with livestreams and online merchandise sales, but the experience is far from normal. 

With no sign of the pandemic slowing down, Tyler and Williams said there is no reopening scheduled for either venue. 

The NIVA campaign is asking for public support by contacting U.S. congressmen because the fate of numerous venues could be at risk if no help arrives.

“If you're wanting our place to exist and our place to survive, you have to do something,” Tyler said. 

“We don’t realize how important and how big of an impact live music has on the community and on the economy until it’s gone,” Williams said.