The city saved Charlotte’s music venues with COVID-19 relief

The city saved Charlotte’s music venues with COVID-19 relief

The Neighborhood Theatre received over $200,000 from the city's Music Venue Grant program.

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The city of Charlotte distributed more than $800,000 in aid to struggling music venues as COVID-19 shut down live entertainment last year.

Details: Axios obtained data from the city on its Music Venue Grant program, which was funded by federal CARES Act money Charlotte received. The funding covered nine months of rent or mortgage assistance and was distributed in November and December of last year.

A total of 11 small independent venues received grants, ranging from $15,000 to just over $200,000.

Data: City of Charlotte
  • Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa received the most of any venue, at $206,000.
  • The Comedy Zone was awarded $117,000.
  • Amos’ Southend and Roxbury were given $95,000 and $94,000, respectively.

Why it matters: The pandemic has hit the entertainment industry especially hard. Independent venues, which are a vital cultural hubs, were some of the most at-risk.

In response, the city opened applications in October 2020 for its grant program.

  • To qualify, venues had to be currently closed and could not have hosted any live performances that sold tickets for in-person attendance since March 23 (as of applying in October 2020).
  • They also had to provide evidence of live performance history and ticket sales.

Gregg McCraw is the owner of Maxx Music, which books the talent for Neighborhood Theatre. He tells me the funding from the city kept the theater alive.

  • During the pandemic, there were several times the venue ran out of money and was unable to pay its bills, McCraw said.

Charlotte was fortunate not to see any independent venues shutter permanently, McCraw said, unlike other cities.

  • “Without the city funding … I would just hazard a guess that at least half of us would have been forced to close,” he said.

What’s next: Live music has returned at many venues, often with proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or negative test required to attend. But McCraw says the industry has still not recovered, especially with the fear over the Delta variant.

  • We’re not out of the woods,” he said.

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