By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 04, 2020 at 2:16 PM

You almost certainly have a fond memory of going to a concert, whether it was a big crowded extravaganza or a small intimate show, a night of music or comedy, an incredible performance on the stage or something special that happened in the crowd. 

Your local independent stages made that happen. They helped give you those great times – and now they need your help to ensure that there will be more of those great memories in the future. 

Today marks a local day of action for the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) – a nationwide group promoting the survival of independent venues big and small, including 72 locales across the state of Wisconsin – which  is pushing support for the Save Our Stages Act and RESTART Act. 

The two bills were designed to provide vital aid for struggling independent venues that have been shutdown since the beginning of the pandemic and will likely remain that way until the very end in the name of public health and safety. 

According to NIVA, 90 percent of their 2,400 members nationwide are likely to close their doors for good if the shutdown continues six months or more without help from the government, meaning the need for both bills to pass is imminent.

"The timing is vital. Congress goes on break, and is rushing to complete its next relief bill, and independent venues MUST be included," writes NIVA in a release. "These mom and pop entrepreneurs are among the hardest hit by a pandemic: first to close and will be among the last to re-open.

"There’s no takeout version of concerts. Drive-ins and virtual streaming shows don’t begin to put our people back to work. The gig economy has been shuttered, and many thousands of our friends are at home, hoping the government keeps them fed while our industry tries to figure out what’s next."

How can you help?

Buying shirts and items from venue's gift shops can provide some support, but the only thing that can truly sustain these local businesses and cultural epicenters during this unprecedented pandemic is life-giving government support. So the best way that you can help is by reaching out to your your local representatives and making it known that you support both the Save Our Stages and RESTART Acts.

To do so, simply fill out a form letter at NIVA's website; it's phenomenally easy to send the pre-written message or to write your own letter encouraging action. Either way, it's vital that you let your legislators know that you value the work of local independent venues and ask them to pledge their support for these two bills.

Let's all work together to bring back as much of our pre-pandemic world as possible. #SaveOurStages

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.