Houston's many music venues and musicians may finally have some good news. Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council voted to approve a three million dollar relief plan for those adversely affected by the closures due to COVID-19.
The Musicians and Music Venues Economic Relief Program is funded by the city's CARES Act 2020 funds provided in the relief package by the federal government in March to help cities, their businesses and residents try to survive the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than $2 trillion were provided to cities all over the United States with Houston receiving $405 million. Houston's City Council last week a vote approved this plan as well as the allocation of an additional $5 million for Small Business Relief.
Musicians and music venues have until 5 p.m. on November 25 to apply online and all applicants must meet the requirements of being based within the city limits, provide evidence of decreased revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions and be in good standing with the city.
Musicians could be eligible for up to $5,000 in relief and music venues for up to $50,000 or $100,000 depending on their budget size. A weighted scoring matrix will be used to fairly determine the amount provided to approved applicants.
The City of Houston teamed up with the Mid-America Arts Alliance to oversee the program. M-AAA is a regional non profit serving to enrich lives through cultural experiences. M-AAA has already helped to distribute almost $600,000 of CARES Act funds in other cities.
M-AAA will be hosting online information classes to assist applicants with the application process. The session will be held on November 10 at 10 a.m. for music venues and at 3 p.m. for musicians. Applicants can also sign up for virtual office hours online. Virtual office hours will take place from November 16-20 from noon to 1 p.m.
Applicants will be notified of the status of their applications in the first week of December and funds they will be distributed the following week.
Houston musicians and music venues have struggled greatly during this pandemic and have seen few efforts to aid them during this time. The Houston Arts Alliance and Houston Music Foundation have been where local artists have received the most support during the pandemic with venues left to fend for themselves and make do with the PPP loans they were possibly granted as the pandemic began almost nine months ago.
Many local music venues have aligned themselves with the National Independent Music Venue Association in support of the Save Our Stages Act, an act that is one of the many issues congress will vote on when they return this week. In September, the city's venues and bridges were lit red to join the national movement in support of independent music venues.
While no one knows what may happen in Congress and how they will vote for a national relief package, it is good news all around for our city's music community and hopefully a sign of additional support to come on the national level.