Live performance venues signal ‘red alert’ lights

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Entertainment venues are still waiting to reopen and aren’t expecting to open until late summer or early fall of next year.

Many venues say they may have to close for good if they don’t get financial relief soon.

The red lights on music venues across West Michigan Tuesday night are part of a nationwide event called “Red Alert Restart.” The purpose of the event is to notify the public that the live performance industry is on red alert.

“It’s as bad as it can be for a business,” said the operating partner of The Intersection, Scott Hammontree. “It’s not just The Intersection — It’s the Pyramid Scheme, the Tips Top. We can’t do takeout. We can’t do takeout for our concerts. It’s been absolutely devastating. I don’t know how else to put it.”

The COVID-19 pandemic killed live music events. Venues in Michigan were forced to close in mid-March. We are days away from the six-month mark.

According to a survey done by a concert venue lobbying group, 90% of small venues can only last six months before they have to shut their doors for good.

DeVos Performance Hall lights up red with other live performance venues nationwide that have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sept. 1, 2020)

“It’s one thing to watch your bank account slowly dwindle. It’s another to see it vacuumed out every day,” Hammontre said.

He also says without shows, no money is coming in while money for rent and other costs are still going out.

Venues across Michigan and the country are standing together trying to convince Capitol Hill to pass relief bills to save stage performances. Many venues are lobbying for the Restart Act, which would provide loans, and the Save Our Stages Act, which is a grant-based program.

Hammontree says concert venues bring $667 million a year to our state. He hopes that can continue in the future.

“Just help us get to the other side and we will go back to doing what we do,” Hammontree said.

If you would like to support the return of live performances, the industry is asking that you call or email lawmakers. You can also fill out a form on the Save Our Stages website.