2nd stimulus bill gives hope for survival to Chicago live music venues

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The second stimulus bill passed by Congress Monday night is giving hope for survival to Chicago's live music venues, which have been completely shut down since March.

Many of those business owners are grateful for the stimulus bill, which they hope will keep them afloat until customers and performers can return.

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Back when there were concerts, in the days before COVID-19, it was not unusual to see Chance the Rapper on stage or in the crowd at the Tonic Room in Lincoln Park. Tonic Room has been shuttered like the rest of the city's independent music venues, all in danger of closing for good.

"It's been devastating,' said Donnie Biggins, Tonic Room. "Almost, literally, eight calendar months of being shut down."

"Our entire industry was on the verge of extinction," added Chris Bauman, Zenith Music Group.

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Bauman is a partner in several Chicago music venues, including the Patio Theater. He has been working with other Chicago area venue owners to lobby Congress for help through a project called Save Our Stages.

With the passage of the stimulus bill, Congress answered.

"The stimulus is going to allow us to survive, and it's going to allow us to restart," Bauman said.

"I'm pretty confident this will hold us over until the return," said Biggins.

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The $900 billion stimulus bill will provide financial help to many industries suffering during the pandemic, as well as providing $600 checks to taxpayers.

"I was hoping we would get more, but ultimately the $600 will help some," said Emily Tran of Rogers Park.

While the stimulus bill will keep them alive, Tonic Room is also hoping to bring some extra cash by selling coffee out of their home in Lincoln Park.
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