United States Senator Todd Young met with several music venue owners and managers Monday at Mike’s Dance Barn in Brown County to talk to them in person about the RESTART Act.
The act expands aid through the end of 2020 for businesses affected by the COVID19 pandemic.
“We have dozens of national business organizations that have been supportive. Of course employees around the state of Indiana and around the country are supported. This is designed to assist our hardest-hit mainstream businesses, providing them six months of payroll assistance and other assistance to pay for their fixed operating costs, like rent or mortgages and get them through this rough patch until we come up with a cure to this wicked virus,” said Senator Young.
Young asked representatives from the venues if they thought they would benefit from an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for business with up to 5,000 employees.
On hand to speak to the senator were Haley Runkins of the Bill Monroe Music Park; Mike Robertson, owner of Mike’s Dance Barn; Spencer Taylor of Mike’s Dance Barn; Dave Kubiak of The Bluebird; and Jonah Crismore of the Buskirk Chumley.
Runkis said customers typically plan their trips to the Bill Monroe property a year in advance, and the venue has been on a small winter staff since the pandemic came before the 2020 season even began. Runkis said virtual shows would be difficult since internet access in that part of Brown County is limited.
Robertson, of Mike’s Dance Barn, said he’d been using proceeds from his construction business to cover expenses at the venue, but that option wouldn’t remain sustainable.
Senator Young said the United States can’t really afford to lose so many small businesses, and that the government is prepared to help them through a rough patch due to the virus. Young said if the businesses close, not only would it affect the tax rolls, but more Americans would be on public assistance.
“We don’t want to be pennywise and pound foolish we of course want to keep employees on the payroll as opposed to having them lose their jobs. And either remain on or go on public assistance. And then ultimately, we don’t want these mainstream businesses to fail. That would lead to some long term damage for our economy. It would lead to less innovation in the nation and frankly, it would least lead to a much less rich community life in arts bastions like Nashville, Indiana, or Bloomington, Indiana,” said Senator Young.
The venue owners asked Young to also think about many of the gig workers who work in the music industry, such as sound engineers, roadies, and others, who might also be experiencing tough financial times. The extra 600-dollars in Federal Pandemic Unemployment insurance many unemployed gig workers are receiving runs out at the end of July.
Young, and Senator Michael F. Bennet are making a bipartisan effort to get the act passed.
“So just last week, we had 10 additional co-sponsors, Republicans and Democrats, indicating that this has to pass. And in the course of that period, we’ve had a number of my colleagues indicate that they’re receiving phone calls, and a lot of inquiries from back home. They are also national groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, the Hotel and Lodging Association, of course, the Independent Venue Association, others who are pressing this legislation. So the more people we have reaching out to their legislators and encouraging them to co-sponsor this legislation in the Senate or in the house where it was just introduced as well, the better chance of passing,” said Senator Young.