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Arts and Live Music Leaders Gather to Salute Senator John Cornyn and The Save Our Stages Act

75 arts and live music leaders from across the state gathered with Sen. Cornyn and his wife Sandy at ZACH Theatre in Austin Monday evening to applaud his efforts.

Arts and Live Music Leaders Gather to Salute Senator John Cornyn and The Save Our Stages Act

Texas artists are celebrating U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for his bipartisan initiative - the Save Our Stages Act - that helped sustain many of the state's and nation's arts organizations and live music venues during the pandemic.

75 arts and live music leaders from across the state gathered with Sen. Cornyn and his wife Sandy at ZACH Theatre in Austin Monday evening to applaud his efforts.

"Senator Cornyn truly understands the importance of the live music industry and of arts and culture to the Texas identity, our state's economy, and the tens of thousands of jobs they support," said Edwin Cabaniss, operator of live music venues in Dallas, Austin and Houston. "When this was threatened by the pandemic, he stepped up in a way that made a difference - not just in Texas - but across the country.

In a video presentation, leaders praised Sen. Cornyn for working across the aisle with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Together they co-sponsored the Save Our Stages Act (SOS). This measure was designed to provide emergency economic support to performing arts, live music, promoters and producers, and key cultural venues which were closed to stop the spread of COVID. SOS authorized $16B to be distributed through Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) which were a critical lifeline for these organizations.

The video included remarks from the Amarillo Symphony, Brauntex Performing Arts Theater Association in New Braunfels, Alley Theatre in Houston, Dallas Arts District, Magik Theatre in San Antonio, and more.

"SVOG allowed us to keep our dancer's dancing, our employees working, keep theater alive here in Houston, during the darkest days of the pandemic," said Stanton Welsh, Houston Ballet Artistic Director.

"You helped save thousands of organizations and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, so from the arts, I say thank you," said Charles Santos, Executive and Artistic Director of TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND in Dallas.

In turn, Sen. Cornyn praised arts and live music leaders for rallying support to get the legislation approved.

"You are providing experiences that can't be replicated online, you are creating jobs and economic opportunities for a whole ecosystem of people that support our performance artists," said Sen. Cornyn. "You are part of something important to our way of life in Texas, and you put up a heck of a fight. So thank you all for what you did to make this possible."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar made a surprise appearance at the event in a pre-recorded video. She spoke about working with Sen. Cornyn and the tenacity needed to get SOS passed.

"We teamed up on Save Our Stages from the beginning, and when people tried to mess with it - as you know, you don't mess with Texas," said Sen. Klobuchar. "It was the biggest investment in the arts in the history of America."

According to the Small Business Administration data - as of 4/11/2022 - 12,935 organizations nationwide had been awarded Shuttered Venue Operators Grants totaling $14.274 billion. These include both for-profit and nonprofit live music and performing arts venues, promoters and theatrical producers, museums, and motion picture venue operators.

In Texas, 750 organizations in 172 communities have received SVOGs, totaling $1.14 billion. Texas was the third largest recipient of SVOGs, in number and in value, behind only California and New York. Recipient communities ranged from Texarkana in northeast Texas to El Paso in the west; Edinburg on the border in far south Texas up to Dalhart in the Texas Panhandle; and dozens and dozens of cities - large and small - in between.

Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith performed during the program, along with a quartet from the Houston Symphony.

Groups organizing Monday night's event included The Alley Theatre (Houston), AT&T Performing Arts Center (Dallas), Bishop Arts Theatre Center (Dallas), Dallas Theater Center, Houston Symphony, Kessler Theater (Dallas), Paramount Theatre (Austin), Theater Under the Stars (Houston), and ZACH Theatre (Austin).

In addition to Save Our Stages, Mr. Cornyn is cosponsor of the bipartisan Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts (CREATE) Act, which would support artists, entrepreneurs and worker in growing their businesses.



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