Reader: Without Aid, More Music Venues Will Go Out of Business

The hi-dive looks different today.
The hi-dive looks different today.
Curtis Wallach
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As COVID-19 numbers rise across Colorado, Governor Jared Polis is encouraging people to limit social gatherings. Mayor Michael Hancock has told everyone to go home by 10 p.m. — and ordered all businesses to stop selling alcohol at that hour and close to the public.

That means that live-music venues are further limited, but Chris Zacher, co-captain of the National Independent Venue Association's Colorado chapter, says that his organization applauds Hancock's Home by 10 order. Some music-venue owners, including Curtis Wallach, co-owner of the hi-dive, would like to see the state go further, and are calling for a total shutdown of clubs, on one critical condition: Colorado needs to provide economic aid that would prevent the live-entertainment sector, one of the biggest employers in the state, from going under.

"I'd love for them to just shut us all down and offer relief," Wallach says. "That said, I realize that without federal funds to back that decision, any meaningful relief is impossible."

Readers were quick to respond to Wallach's comment in the Westword Facebook post "Owner to Polis: Shut Venues Down, Provide COVID-19 Aid Now."

Says Matthew: 

Strongly worded stuff, but it's pointing out the obvious: Most small businesses can't operate safely at anywhere near full capacity in order to maintain a positive balance sheet, and direct payments to offset those losses, coupled with monitoring and enforcement, is the best way to ensure voluntary adherence to safe protocols.

Responds Tim:

Absolutely no reason to go beyond the current restrictions for outdoor and larger indoor venues. These guys are doing something just to do something, with no evidence that it will do any good. The only thing we do know is that it will push more music venues out of business and employees out of work.

Suggests Elizabeth. 

Financially support small businesses/restaurants so they can close up shop temporarily. Same for individual people: Make it so folks can make the choice to stay home without putting them at financial risk.

Adds TJ: 

If we had done this from the start, we would be in a much better place now. All these people complaining about spending money seem to ignore that it's costing us so much more now than if we had just supported people to stay in like every other country.

Replies Ryan:

The state has no money. Direct your ire to Trump and Congress, not Colorado.

Counters Scott:

State governors are legally specifically responsible for public health and safety. Not the president, not the federal government, though there are department and other organizations funded through the federal government that focus on public health and safety. Besides, the federal government has no money either and is about $23 trillion in debt.

Notes Bobby:

Wow, that industry really needs to come together and formulate one unified message. There's a new, and opposite, opinion coming from them every week.

Concludes Maggie: 

It's almost like there are hundreds of independent business owners with different opinions and financial situations! 

"We’re really up against the ropes right now," Zacher says. "The Governor's COVID-19 team is projecting that the worst of it will hit sometime in late November to early January. The moves they are currently making are an attempt to slow the spread before our hospitals are beyond capacity. I want to point out that as frustrating as this is for business owners, the governor and mayor are listening to the scientists and following their lead."

What do you think the independent venues should do? Do you see financial help coming from the government? Post a comment or email your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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