Senator Tom Carper

Senator Tom Carper (D)

(WDEL file)

Senator Tom Carper is looking to help music venues struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

"A lot of businesses, large and small, [were hit hard by the pandemic,]" said U.S. Senator Tom Carper from Delaware. "Few as badly as live performance venues."

Carper is introducing legislation that would provide a tax credit for venues based off of what they lost in pre-sale ticket revenues at the onset of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. 

"They have basically sold a lot of tickets in advance, prior to the pandemic, and when we got into the pandemic, people could donate the value of their tickets, but a lot of people asked for refunds," he said on DelAWARE with Peter MacArthur. "Music venues were one of the first to be badly damaged economically going into the pandemic, and they'll be one of the last to come out of it."

Carper's proposal would return to venues roughly half of the value of the ticket sales returned to customers as a tax credit, and he noted "billions and billions" had been distributed to airlines and other large companies to keep them afloat, and music venues are just as deserving of assistance as they're an important piece of any economic landscape. 

"We want to make sure we don't leave music venues behind," he said. "Everybody has a favorite song. One of my favorite songs was by Don McLean, one of the big hits, American Pie. It has the lyric, 'The day that the music died,' and it's just important to me to not let the music die, to keep it going, keep it alive."

Carper wants to see the program funded through leftover from the payroll protection funding, and he said the idea has bi-partisan support, because everyone loves music and having space in their state to see a show. 

"There's a Republican from Texas named John Cornyn, we're actually friends and both love music and he represents Austin, Texas, where [the host] South by Southwest music festival," Carper said. "He and I circulated a letter I think back in May or June. We asked our colleagues who might be interested in this kind of legislation, and two or three days later, over half the senate signed up and said they'd be interested in pursuing that, so it has a good bipartisan support. Now we'll gather supporters, and we'll see where we'll see where it goes."

Music venues are economic draws for states, bringing people in to see shows just as often as other attractions can inspire visitors from out-of-state. 

"Go to the beach, go to baseball games, go to football games; also, go see concerts, go see live music," he said. "We are blessed in this state, Delaware. [We've got] The Queen, The Grand down in Smyrna they've got a wonderful music venue, Dover Downs, we have the state fair, Firefly, and a great music venue down near Ocean View...Tourism is huge in Delaware, and people come not just for the beaches, not just for national parks or national wildlife refuges. They come for the music..and we want to keep people coming and wanting to come back again and again."