Struggling entertainment venues get financial lifeline during pandemic

Struggling entertainment venues get financial lifeline during pandemic

CHARLOTTE — Channel 9 captured Bakalao Stars performing inside the Evening Muse in NoDa -- not for a crowd but for a camera.

They were filming a virtual concert for Friday night.

More than 45 artists are teaming up with local venues for an ambitious fundraiser to raise $100,000 for Roof Above to help people living in Charlotte’s homeless encampments.

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“To do it through music is an amazing thing,” said Christian Anzola, of Bakalao Stars. “People can donate $1 or $5, whatever they’re able to.”

The live music scene has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“We are the largest independent music venue in Charlotte,” said Gregg McCraw of the Neighborhood Theatre. “A venue this size costs tens of thousands of dollars per month to keep the lights on and the rent paid.”

Last month, the city of Charlotte handed out more than $730,000 in rent relief grants to 11 music venues.

It is a financial lifeline few cities have provided.

Those venues soon will be able to seek federal stimulus funds through the Save Our Stages Act.

Those in the industry said the money is desperately needed to avoid closing the curtains for good.

“We run these clubs out of love and the responsibility of bringing art and culture to people,” said Joe Kuhlmann, owner of Evening Muse.

The process for music venues to get federal money still is being worked out, but Channel 9 learned they could receive as much as 45% of their revenue from 2019.

City grants helped 11 music venues to cover six to nine months of their rent or mortgage.

Channel 9 also checked all 11 with the county’s delinquent taxpayer list and found the Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre both owed money from several years ago.

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Kuhlmanm said he’s taking care of the bill.

The Neighborhood Theatre’s outstanding bill is from a previous owner, but the county tax office said the lien is the current owner’s responsibility.

Charlotte officials said the grants were given on an emergency basis to save jobs and businesses. Recipients were not required to be current on their taxes to receive the money.

The venues can’t use the grants to pay tax bills.

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