“Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”
“The Mourning Bride”, William Congreve, 1697
It may be hard to conceive, but there was actually legislation presented in the US Senate this week to help keep the spotlights on and the amps operating at small music venues.
Why is what is literally named the “Save Our Stages” act so surprising is because it is sponsored by two people who seemingly have nothing more in common than the fact that they work in the same building.
One of the sponsors is Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the woman who had been running for the Democratic presidential nomination with the message that a bit of common sense and decency (contrasted with the ways and means of the current resident of 1600) are in order.
The other is John Cornyn (R-TX), the man who is generally seen only standing behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, positioned in such a way that you have the sense that he would take a bullet for Mitch, the senator who has proven to be as craven as is conceivable.
The word from Klobuchar is “Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education. This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”
Which has a sense of Midwestern practicality and forthrightness about it: she evidently understands that the arts are not superfluous to the education of people of all ages.
Cornyn said, “Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close. The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”
Given that the reopening of Texas—based on the explosion in the number of cases of COVID-19—occurred a bit too soon thanks to Governor Greg Abbott’s evident fealty to the King Who Is Wearing No Clothes, one hopes that this means that the reopening Cornyn is referring to is something that will happen only after there is control of the virus.
Cornyn strikes me as the kind of politician that only Hunter S. Thompson could have adequately described.
What is interesting (and laudable) about the act is that it would provide six months of financial support to venues (including paying employees; it would allow the Small Business Administration to make grants that are equal to the lesser of either 45% of operation costs from calendar year 2019—you need to base the amount on a normal year—or $12 million) that are not arms of giant organizations.