The owners of Montana’s live entertainment venues are backing a proposed relief measure introduced by a handful of U.S. senators that would offer a tax credit to help cover the mounting cost of refunded tickets.
Shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, live venues across Missoula and around the state have been hard hit by closures intended to protect public health, leaving many without jobs or reduced incomes.
It also has left the nation’s live music industry in a pinch, including those in Montana.
“Gathering in large crowds for live shows is something many Montanans are missing right now,” said Sen. Jon Tester. “Without them, the folks who make a living keeping us entertained will be left out in the cold. This bill will fix that by making sure the owners and employees of our small, independent venues can weather this storm, and helps ensure they’ll be there to welcome folks back to experience the magic of live music once we’re on the other side of this crisis.”
The Entertainments New Credit Opportunity for Relief & Economic Sustainability, or ENCORES Act, was introduced last week by Tester and Tom Carper, D-Delaware. The bill would create a new tax credit for live entertainment venues with fewer than 500 employees to help cover the cost of refunded tickets for shows that were canceled due to the pandemic.
“As our industry faces an indefinite shutdown, the largest expense for independent venues and promoters is the cost of refunding tickets for shows that will not be able to happen to the foreseeable future,” said Nick Checota, owner of Logjam Presents and The Wilma Theater, Top Hat Lounge and the KettleHouse Amphitheater in Missoula. “Tester’s ENCORES Act would provide local venues like mine the help we need to face this challenge.”
Missoula’s live and vibrant entertainment scene has sat quiet in recent months. Concerts large and small have been canceled or postponed, including the Guns & Roses concert once scheduled for this month.
Logjam’s deep lineup of summer music was also canceled or postponed including Grace Potter, Vampire Weekend, Louis The Child and many others.
“Independent venues support surrounding local businesses and help foster the careers of performing artists,” Checota said. “These small businesses contribute to thriving communities, and this legislation will help our industry navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we are still here on the other side to continue that work.”