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Senator Was A Lead Champion Of The Vital ‘Save Our Stages’ Federal Grant Program That Gave Rochester Jazz Fest The $1.3M In Pandemic Relief It Needed To Keep The Music Flowing And To Ensure The Show Would Go On

Now Jazz Fest Is Bigger Than Ever With Its Headline Shows Free For All To Enjoy; Driving Millions In Economic Activity To The Downtown And Thousands To Rochester’s Restaurants & Businesses 

Schumer: Let The Music And Economic Activity Flow Through Downtown Rochester, Jazz Fest Is Back And Better Than Ever!

This week U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer celebrated the start of the 2022 Rochester International Jazz Festival, which he saved after it suffered tremendous revenue losses due to being unable to operate during the pandemic. Schumer secured over $27 million for the Finger Lakes’ independent live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions thanks to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), otherwise known as the ‘Save Our Stages’ program, which Schumer led to passage into law. Schumer said the rhythm of Jazz Fest is like the beating heart of downtown Rochester and a driving force in the local economy, and thanks to the $1.3 million in COVID relief he secured, the Jazz Fest has now been able to return better than ever with its headline shows free for the entire Rochester community to enjoy.

“To all the live music fans in Rochester, I am proud to celebrate the kickoff of the 2022 Rochester Jazz Fest. For the past two years, Rochester was feeling the blues as this beloved celebration of jazz was put on hold, and I promised community leaders that I would do everything in my power to help it come back better than ever. I’m here to say promises made promises kept, and now it is time for the music and business to flow back to our downtown,” said Senator Schumer. “Thanks to the ‘Save Our Stages’ program I fought so hard to create, the Jazz Fest is back and Rochester is ready to once again swing into summer. I am happy to help the sound of horns and smooth bass fill the downtown once again.”  

Marc Iacona, Executive Director and Co-Producer of the Rochester International Jazz Festival said, “Simply put, Senator Schumer really came through for us.  His help ensured that the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival would survive and come back to downtown this year.  As the lead negotiator of the American Rescue Plan Act and champion of the Save our Stages Act, the grant program he created provided the bridge need by the Jazz Festival, and so many of our Rochester live event and arts organizations, to keep us going. Thanks to Senator Schumer’s support, we put the major portion of the grant toward artist and production fees so that we could make all our headliner shows free this year and open to the public. Each year the Festival delivers millions of dollars in economic activity to boost downtown Rochester, and this year we are doubling down. We are extremely grateful for Senator Schumer's support."

The SVOG program has provided more than $2 billion to more than 1,400 theaters, independent music-event venues and comedy clubs, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions like museums and zoos across New York.  Schumer said that live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions were some of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dedicated federal assistance he secured has saved many beloved events and venues, like the Rochester International Jazz Festival, from permanently shutting their doors to the public.

Other beloved Finger Lakes venues and cultural institutions like the Geva Theatre Center, Rochester Broadway Theater League, Abilene Bar & Lounge, the Rochester Fringe Festival, The Little Theater, Blackfriar’s Theater, Rochester City Ballet, Strong Museum, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester City Ballet, the MuCCC Theater, and many more were also able to keep the lights on, and continue to drive their communities with the help of the federal relief funds. Schumer said the federal assistance was imperative to local economies because events and venues like these are an essential part of the Finger Lakes’ bustling tourism economy, and critical lynchpins for businesses that rely on the influx of visitors to local shops, restaurants, hotels, and picturesque downtowns. Rochester’s Jazz Festival has been estimated to have as large as a $10 million dollar annual economic impact for the region bringing in as many as 200,000 visitors who come from all over the world.

The funding that made Rochester’s Jazz Festival possible was the culmination of months of relentless work by Senator Schumer to pass the Save Our Stages Act into law. In December 2020, Schumer negotiated the Save Our Stages Act into the bipartisan COVID relief package, which provided $15 billion nationally for independent live venue operators, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions such as live performing arts organizations and museums that have been significantly impacted by the economic effects of the COVID crisis. Specifically, the COVID relief package created a new Small Business Administration (SBA) grant program known as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), which provided dedicated relief to eligible independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. These grants were used for payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities, and personal protective equipment, and other needs, to help keep the industry alive and able rebound as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic. Schumer then secured more than $1 billion in additional funding for the SVOG program in the American Rescue Plan, and made sure SVOG applicants could access assistance from both Save Our Stages and the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.