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Proposed legislation would help silent music venues in Asheville, across nation

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FILE - The Orange Peel, music venue in Asheville, North Carolina (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The year 2020 has been hard for everyone, especially music venues.

“We had our last event on March 11,” said Liz Tallent, marketing and events director for The Orange Peel.

Each year, The Orange Peel in downtown Asheville puts on between 160 to 180 shows. In 2020, 140 of those were postponed or canceled.

“I think our industry is hopeful that maybe by late summer or fall 2021 indoor shows will be able to return at some capacity,” Tallent said.

She said, although these past eight months have been hard, they're trying to stay optimistic.

They’re now hoping Congress takes action soon on the Save Our Stages, or SOS, Act.

“It’s got really broad bipartisan support,” Tallent said.

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The act would provide venues, which are a part of the National Independent Venue Association, with some much needed relief.

The legislation sits waiting to be heard by a committee right now.

“Many of us have really large buildings and a lot of us are in downtown, so we have a really high rent and mortgage and tax burden. So, that’s really what we need funding for and that’s exactly what SOS would give venues and theaters,” Tallent said.

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It’s something Buncombe County Commission chair Brownie Newman said he knows many are struggling with.

“We have tried to do as best as we can with the resources that we have and some of the resources that have come down from part of the national relief efforts,” Newman said.

Without any help, Tallent fears what will happen.

“By the end of the 2021, our internal surveys at NIVA show that 90 percent of independent venues are going to close,” she said. “Until we can bring our audiences back in person, we really don’t have a revenue model.”

To help support local venues, Tallent encourages the public to visit this website. On it, you can send a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to pass the SOS Act as soon as they can.

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