Everything shut down in North Carolina on March 13th, and Charlotte was preparing for a great year for music. There had been a lot of groundwork to build up the infrastructure and starting to see the results before the pandemic hit. The music venues have remained closed and while restaurants and bars were allowed to open, the city has been placing stricter guidelines on the number of people in indoor spaces. Those with outdoor patios have been starting to see more live music gigs, in part due to the outdoor music program aimed at creating more than 100 paid gigs through the end of November. As for relief, the city of Charlotte was able create a program that helped provide nine months of rent for most of the local music venues.
Scroll below to read the full interview from October, 2020 with the Charlotte Pilot City Leader, Rick Thurmond.
What did the overall situation look like in your city when the pandemic hit?
Similar to others. March 13 was our D-Day. That’s the day that most offices shifted to remote work and all restaurants, shops, venues closed. Immediately prior to that, most local venues were tracking for a great year. We had done a lot of groundwork to build up the music scene infrastructure and were starting to see results.
What is the current situation in your city? What has changed?
Venues are still closed, and the state actually just released slightly stricter guidelines, limiting indoor gatherings to 10 (previously 25). Restaurants with large patios are doing well, as are breweries. Starting to see more gigs for musicians on those patios. We launched an outdoor music program that will end up creating 100+ paid gigs through November. There is hope, but the unknown makes it difficult.
What did you get out of being a pilot city in the REVS initiative?
It was great to be able to connect with music scene and industry colleagues from around the country and build some relationships. I learned from other cities and in particular Austin was helpful as we began drafting our REVS plan. It was also an opportunity to link Charlotte’s music scene with other, better known music scenes around the country.
Were you able to procure funding for the local venues? If so, where did the support come from?
Yes. We worked with the City of Charlotte to create a program that provided 9 months rent relief to venues that have been forced closed and rely on ticket or door revenue. This has been a lifesaver and will literally save most of these venues, assuming they are able to open at some point next year. That work is where most of our energy has gone over the past few months, as well as advocating at the state level for venues across N.C. We have a draft REVS plan that we are testing with stakeholders and hope to be able to release before the holidays.
Cover Photo Credit: Wes Hicks