Venue owners struggle to envision future for live music industry

Stages in live music venues throughout the Bay Area have been empty for five months and owners say they've reached a breaking point.

From club owners to bands to bartenders, those in the industry feel neglected and wonder if their jobs will ever return.

"It's been an enormous struggle," Ybor City venue Crowbar owner Tom DeGeorge said. "I don't know too many businesses that when you're closed for a 5-month period of time with no revenue coming in that you can survive that. It's extremely difficult," DeGeorge said.

DeGeorge worries if relief doesn't come soon the industry may take more than a year to fully bounce back and even then, it may not be the same.

While restaurants have been able to re-open, as well as bars for a short time, venues like Crowbar haven't been able to open at all. DeGeorge estimates he's already lost more than a half a million dollars in anticipated revenue.

"Unfortunately, we've fallen into this little gap where we aren't permitted to sell liquor or have any liquor consumed on our property so it's very difficult for me to do anything to help my industry," DeGeorge said.

Like some DeGeorge has received PPP money, but he says it's not been enough. In June, DeGeorge furloughed about seven employees along with 10 other part-time employees.

It's a similar story at country music staple The Dallas Bull. Assistant Manager Jose Romero says they can maybe go for 2 more months like this before they may have to consider closing.

"I mean it's soul-crushing. We're literally on our last leg," Romero said.

U.S. Senate Bill 4258 also known as the 'Save our Stages Act' was introduced into Congress last week. If passed, it would establish a special grant program for small live venue operators.

DeGeorge is hoping the bill will get the support of Florida Senator Marco Rubio who he believes could help get Florida's industry back in motion.

"If we could get something like that going it would really help a lot. We need Senator Rubio's office to sign off on this for us. We need his support," DeGeorge said.

FOX 13 reached out to Rubio's office Wednesday afternoon and were still waiting for a response as of Wednesday evening.

As part of DeGeorge's efforts, Thursday he's planning wat he's calling a "Day of Action" where he's encouraging venue owners to reach out to their elected officials about this issue.