CIVL Service: Saving Our Independent Music Venues

CIVL Service: Saving Our Independent Music Venues

Our beloved independent music venues bring their own personalities to the Chicago music scene like a bunch of cousins who know how to party. When they get together, they share the aux cord cooperatively, celebrating eclectic, yet superb, music tastes across the board. They nurture us and we wouldn’t be the same without any of them, each one bringing special quirks, smells and memories to the table that can’t possibly be replaced.

We don’t know when this is going to be “over.” But we do know that COVID19 has devastated our local music venues and their employees, a common story during the Coronavirus pandemic for a big city used to thriving on the energy of its people. From March 15 through April 30, here are some staggering figures on how the shutdown has affected just 16 of the 25 CIVL members:

Number of venues sampled: 16
Number of cancelled events at these venues: 1,219
Number of audience members lost:  297,815
Lost Revenue:  $7,176,253
Full-Time jobs affected:  206
Full-Time wages affected:  $1,336,698
Part-Time jobs affected: 1,702
Part-Time wages affected: $2,119,810

Those part-time wages are our favorite bartenders. Those full-time wages are supposed to go to quality sound technicians who actually heed musicians’ notes, and lighting experts who know their club’s sight-lines no matter the crowd size. These numbers represent impacted lives. Beyond the energy and spirit we all crave from going to shows, these numbers represent the very bones of the Chicago live music institutions we hold dearest, and they cannot stand up without us. And while we don’t know what our futures hold, we know we don’t want to live in a world without Tonic Room or Empty Bottle.

To help ensure that reality, local independent venues have teamed up to create CIVL, or the Chicago Independent Venue League. The CIVL group has been instrumental in forming a national coalition comprised of over 1000 members in all 50 states called The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), of which they are founding members. Together, CIVL and NIVA are coming together to not only ask for community support, but to ask for additional support and consideration for small businesses from the government.

CIVL Co-Chairs Katie Tuten (The Hideout) and Robert Gomez (Subterranean, Beat Kitchen) provided the following statement:
CIVL includes some of the most historic music venues in Chicago, and in fact, the world. Our venues employ thousands of people and economically fuel our neighborhoods. Our venues help draw millions of tourists to Chicago. Recently Condé  Nast, USA Today and others have recognized our music venues importance in making Chicago America’s number one tourist destination. For over 100 years, our stages have presented live performers in every genre of music, comedy, and theater; from their first show, through international stardom. CIVL venues never forget that we come from neighborhoods of working people, just trying to make it, just trying to be heard. From the streets of Chicago, to the halls of the nation’s capital, we must fight to sustain the absolute cultural and economic impact of independent music venues.”

To learn more, watch the above video or check out the CIVL website . Get involved or donate today, even for the cost of one drink you’d typically be adding to your tab at your venue of choice. The following Chicago venues are current CIVL members:

Avondale Music Hall
Beat Kitchen
Cafe Mustache
Empty Bottle
G-Man Tavern
The Hideout
Lincoln Hall
Park West
Patio Theater 
The Promontory
The Riviera Theatre
The Silver Room
Sleeping Village
Thalia Hall
Tonic Room
The Vic
The Whistler

Filed under: Chicago, Chicago Live Music

Leave a comment