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Changes could be on the way for music venue program

Friday, June 9, 2017 by Chad Swiatecki

The Economic Development Department is examining ways to expand the use of its Music Venue Assistance Loan Program so that thin-margined venues can use the city dollars for uses that grow their businesses. Currently, the low-interest micro program that was made permanent by City Council in 2013 can only be used to pay for sound mitigation equipment or structures. But city staff are in the beginning stages of researching and consulting with venue owners for ways to help those businesses grow their revenue. Ideas that were discussed at Monday’s meeting of the Music Commission include aiding things like installation of a kitchen to offer food, or adding an indoor sprinkler system for fire suppression, which would let a venue increase its legal capacity. To date only four venues have used the program, primarily because sound mitigation is a low priority for clubs and it adds expense without growing revenue. Under the 2013 ordinance Council provides $100,000 per year to the loan fund until it reaches a $750,000 balance. Because of the low participation to this date Council voted earlier this year to use $475,000 from the fund to pay for measures outlined in the Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus. With another $100,000 due to arrive with the passage of the next budget, the fund is expected to have just over $200,000 available, with individual loan amounts capped based the length and a maximum of $50,000 over three years.

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