TN Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Create New Live Music Fund

Posted on: Tuesday - Apr 16, 2024

A bill to create a new statewide live music fund has passed unanimously in both the Tennessee Senate and House and now heads to the Governor’s Desk for signature.

SB2508/HB2712, identical companion bills carried by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Whip Johnny Garrett, was brought as a collaboration between the Music Venue Alliance Nashville, National Independent Venue Association, and Broadway Entertainment Association. The bill creates the structure of a Live Music Fund that will one day be able to provide grants to live music and performance venues, promoters, and performers. While the bill does not actually allocate any money to the fund during this fiscal year, it does allow it to also receive donations and grants from individuals and the private sector. 

“We are truly excited by the unanimous and bipartisan support for our independent venues,” said Chris Cobb, Board President of the Music Venue Alliance Nashville. “It has become increasingly difficult to own, operate, or grow an independent venue in today’s climate, and a fund like this will be a difference maker to ensure that independent venues across Tennessee not only survive, but thrive.”

The legislation additionally defines elements of the live music industry in code for the first time, a much needed fundamental step towards directing future support.  The fund is set up to be administered by the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, under the Department of Economic and Community Development.  

“The Live Music & Performance Venue Fund creates a massive opportunity for us to protect and preserve Tennessee’s live music industry for years to come.” said Bob Raines, Executive Director of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission. “Independent venues and performers across the great state of Tennessee are the foundation of our complex and vibrant ecosystem and we know their success is directly tied to the vibrancy and growth of our communities across the state.”

While Tennessee becomes only the second state in the nation to define a live music and performance venue, a small group of similar funds have been created in cities and states across the US. Texas, for example, provided over 650 micro grants to individual creatives in 2023 through a similar fund, and recently was able to provide a grant to a historic independent venue that enabled it to secure a 30-year lease extension. The key at this first stage, according to stakeholders, was ensuring this fund was set up to receive both public and private dollars. 

“We applaud Leader Johnson and Representative Garrett for their leadership, and thank the entire Tennessee General Assembly for their unwavering support of independent venues, promoters, and the entire live entertainment sector in Tennessee.” said Stephen Parker, Executive Director of the National Independent Venue Association. “Whether investment to bolster the fund comes from the live community, the private sector, or government, we look forward to rallying support and growing this fund in the years ahead to ensure the preservation of Tennessee’s legendary live music economy.”

SB2508/HB2712 now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature. 

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