This weekend, YouTube and the National Independent Venue Association are doing an awesome thing for local music venues nationwide, and I’m sure many of you have heard about the star-studded Save Our Stages Fest. It’s the kind of huge, publicity-grabbing event that gets a

The list of performers for the fest this weekend.

ton of attention with people in markets across the country.

Which is a good thing, because it’s for a good cause, and it needs to get in front of a large group of people to make that positive impact. I do not begrudge that at all, and I wholeheartedly encourage people to check it out, and any other event of that ilk, because they are doing something positive for the world, the arts world in particular. I’ll be watching it with you.

But in addition to supporting that very worthy cause, I also encourage you to look into taking other actions much closer to home, to help the area arts and entertainment scene (more on that later).

I’m not one to cozy up to giant corporations, but I’ve got to give credit where it’s due, and in addition to strongly encouraging you to help support your local stages in other ways (more on that later), I give credit to YouTube for putting together the fest this weekend.

It’s an incredibly crucial cause, and YouTube, along with the National Independent Venue Association, deserves praise for recognizing that venues across America (and the world) are struggling, and founding the Save Our Stages initiative to help out independent live music venues nailed by covid. The duo’s goal is to not just help out the venues financially to keep them afloat, but also give a hand in regard to helping them get going again and bringing live music back to venues safely, while raising awareness and funding.

All in all, it’s a pretty damn good deal, and as someone who has spent considerable time in live music venues not just in the Quad-Cities, but everywhere from New York to Chicago to Seattle to Southern California, I’m really happy to see this happening.

According to YouTube’s announcement of the event, “COVID-19 has forced 2,800+ independent music venues to close. To protect these cherished stages, we bring you Save Our Stages Fest, a three-day virtual music festival featuring some of the world’s biggest musicians playing live from venues across the country. Join us October 16-18.”

The event, which you can check out here, is hosted by Reggie Watts and includes a ton of awesome talent, including Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus, Leon Bridges, Demi Lovato, Kelsea Ballerini, Dave Matthews, Little Big Town, Macklemore, Reba McEntire, Phoebe Bridgers, The Lumineers, Major Lazer, The Roots, and more.

The fund is intended to work with federal and local programs, assisting with the most immediate needs facing the country’s independent venues and promoters and making it more likely that they will be able to reopen, fully, when it’s safe.

I’m not really sure what more I can say in regard to the fact that the economy is in major trouble, and the arts and entertainment-based economy is in complete shambles. Just look at the local landscape. The TaxSlayer Center is closed and has been for most of the year. The Adler just opened in a limited capacity. The Rust Belt was finally able to hold an outdoor show. Codfish Hollow is done until next year. The River Music Experience has likewise been shut out of most live performance since the spring. Pretty much every theater in town is shut down and has had to cancel their season, and the sole exceptions are really, really struggling

Once a thriving spot for some of the best music on the local scene, RIBCO has been sadly quiet in 2020.

with the major lack of attendees due to covid protocols. It’s not a bright time for places like Circa ’21, The Speakeasy, RIBCO, Black Box Theater, Rozz-Tox, and others.

The Quad City Storm (as well as many other teams in their league) have shut down operations. The Quad City River Bandits haven’t played a game in what seems like several decades, between covid and the flood. The Quad City Steamwheelers haven’t played in ages and may not play again next season. Ditto for the River Bandits, which would make THREE seasons in a row without baseball in downtown Davenport.

And it’s not just the venues and their hundreds of employees that are hurting.

It’s also the artists who aren’t able to play in those venues.

And I’m not just talking about financially, although that’s been a huge hit to those of us who depend on the arts for our living.

Performing arts types are generally creative and eccentric, and wear their hearts on their sleeves. It’s how their creations resonate, through their courage to expose those areas of their lives and emotional pathways which most

Circa ’21’s Bootleggers are among many local performers who have been hit hard by covid.

people keep occluded.

And so, speaking as one of those creative people, I can say that this year has really sucked without being able to engage with the public.

It’s rough not being able to perform, whether it’s music, or theater, or, in the case with authors like me, being able to do book readings or signings. It’s not just the financial hit, which is considerable, but it’s the mental and emotional side of things, in not being able to interact with an audience and experience that community.

And so, while I certainly encourage you to check out YouTube’s Save Our Stages event, I also strongly encourage you to help out when you can on a local basis as well.

Hey, I get it, we’re all hurting financially, or at least many of us are, and if you can’t afford it, you don’t want me whining to you about it and lecturing you. So, if you can’t afford to help, don’t consider this aimed at you. And, if you are in that position, I wish you well and I hope your own situation turns around quickly for the better.

Anthony Natarelli’s $1 Producer Project is one of many cool local arts organizations worthy of your support.

However, if you’re one of those people — and there are many — who have been fortunate enough to not be impacted financially by covid, or, in the case of many folks out there, you’ve actually gained in wealth during this time of covid for whatever reason, I implore you to help out those folks on the local scene who need the boost, especially now, as both parties in Congress and the president jerk around and play politics with another stimulus bill instead of helping out the working people and small businesses that they love to give lip service to ahead of elections.

So, if most venues are closed or at limited capacity, how can you help out?

One way is to buy gift cards or gift certificates, especially with the holidays on the way. If you know someone who enjoys, say, Circa ’21, or Black Box Theater, why not get them a gift certificate that they can use on a future show?

If you’re looking

Local historical horror author Paul Ferguson will have a new book out later this year or early in 2021.

ahead at a concert scheduled for the Rust Belt next spring, go ahead and pick up the tickets ahead of time for someone as a gift.

There are also ways to contribute online, whether through patreon or other means, and some are extremely affordable. Anthony Natarelli and his band of actors and crew put together some fantastic and innovative work with their $1 Producer Project, and hey, the price is right, so why not toss them a buck?

What about smaller venues?

Well, most local music venues are also businesses which serve food, drinks or other items, and if you’re looking at going out for food, or carry-out, why not check out a spot like RIBCO, or Rozz-Tox, which could use the extra cash they’re not getting from having to shut down their stages? RIBCO has got some of the best burgers around, and Rozz-Tox has got a wonderfully eclectic menu of food and drinks befitting such a unique and magical establishment.

Or, if you’re someone who’s running a book club, or looking to read more books as a winter resolution, or, if you’re someone who’s constantly posting on social media about the books

My new novel, Subliminal Cartography, will be in bookstores worldwide on Nov. 11.

you’re reading, why not look into buying and promoting books by one of the many local authors here in the Quad-Cities?

I’m not just talking about me, although I certainly welcome your patronage. But there are plenty of talented folks out there writing everything from mysteries (Matthew Clemens, Max Collins, etc.) to horror (Connie Wilson, Paul Ferguson, etc.) to offbeat comedy (Jason Tanamor, William Pepper, etc.) to children’s books (Jason Platt, yours truly, etc.), and all of our books are available at the locally-owned-and-operated The Book Rack in Davenport.

I should also mention that every day, here on QuadCities.com, we publish sometimes up to a dozen stories and podcasts which highlight all of these great creative people and the local arts and entertainment scene, Please feel free to keep checking out our free stories and share them all over your social media, to let people know about all the awesome creative folks and establishments here in the Quad-Cities.

There are many ways to not just help save our stages, but help save those performers without whom the stages would be empty.

This weekend, and the online concerts, are a great thing, but with the covid numbers spiking and economic numbers looking terrible, it should only be a start. Shopping local in regard to the area arts scene won’t just help a local creator or venue, but it’ll open you up to a new world right here on your doorstep, one which I think you’ll find to be very compelling and rewarding to explore.

Advertisement

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.