MOTION-- Arts and culture are foundational to the City of Los Angeles’s economy, identity, and recovery
from the Covid-19 pandemic. Independent live music venues, in particular, play an integral role
in our local creative economy and the cultural identity of our communities.
Creative industries employ an estimated 414,945 workers and generate an estimated $139.7
billion in LA County. Independent music venues are vital to this vibrant segment of our local and
regional economy, providing platforms for independent and emerging artists. They also stimulate
a virtuous cycle of economic development in our neighborhoods: studies suggest that for every
dollar spent on a ticket for a show at an independent music venue, twelve additional dollars are
spent nearby in restaurants and bars and for lodging and transportation.
However, following the outbreak of COVID-19, independent music venues were among the first
businesses to close and will be the last to reopen. These venues have seen a staggering loss of
approximately 95% of revenues in the last year, even as rent/mortgage, payroll, and insurance
bills continue to accumulate. The majority of smaller venues are at risk of permanent closure.
The short- and long-term ramifications of losing more of Los Angeles's independent venues
would be far-reaching. An Otis College report estimated that 24 percent of LA County’s creative
economy jobs were lost between February and December 2020. Without aggressive action to
revive this vital part of our economy, Los Angeles risks permanently losing cultural industries to
other emerging creative hubs around the United States.
While the tender shoots of economic recovery are finally beginning to reach LA’s independent
venues — the Small Business Administration began accepting applications for the Shuttered
Venue Operator Grant in April 2021 and the State of California will begin a broader reopening of
its economy in June 2021 — these small businesses will need every possible tool to generate
revenue and ensure their long-term survival.
As with other parts of the leisure, entertainment and hospitality economy, consumers’ ongoing
concerns about the health risks of crowded indoor spaces are likely to constrain independent
venues’ recovery. Regardless of how state and local restrictions evolve, venues in Los Angeles
do not expect to reach full capacity for indoor shows any time in 2021 due to tepid demand. In a
recent survey of frequent event-goers conducted by the National Independent Venue
Association, over half of respondents said that an event would need to be held outdoors for
them to feel comfortable attending.
It is, therefore, vitally important that the City of Los Angeles provide independent venues with
the opportunity to host regular, cost-effective outdoor events. Given the public's greater comfort
with outdoor activities in a Covid-19 context, independent venues can reach a larger customer
base by hosting outdoor performances, aiding their recovery.
The City has already made accommodations through the Al Fresco program to assist local
restaurants by allowing them to use sidewalks, parking lots, street parking, and lane closures for
outdoor dining. The program has received positive feedback from restaurants, diners, and
communities across Los Angeles. The City should set up a similar program to allow for safe,
outdoor performances hosted by independent music venues.
The current process for obtaining permits to host outdoor events is time-consuming and costly. It
is unfeasible for independent venues — already struggling for their survival — to host regular
outdoor events under current systems. Besides the standard special event permit required for
most locations, additional permits are often needed for amplified sound, large structures such as
props and installations, sampling, tents, stages, food and beverage vending, and fire
department permits for generators or electricity. While these permits are necessary for public
safety, a streamlined, integrated program for expediting permits would make outdoor events a
more viable revenue stream for venues.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Chief Legislative Analyst, Department of Transportation and
Bureau of Engineering, with the assistance of the Bureau of Street Services, Department of
Building and Safety, Department of City Planning and City Attorney, and Department of Cultural
Affairs, as needed, be instructed to report back within 60 days on developing an outdoor
performance program that allows for a streamlined outdoor event permit process, including but
not limited to a potential program structure, eligibility criteria, safety and infrastructure
requirements, and a plan that would enable interested businesses to opt in to the permit
program. The program should outline protocols to enable venues to hold outdoor concerts,
theatrical productions, and other live performances. The plan should specifically consider the
• The designation of a single City entity responsible for processing applications to ensure
venues have only one point of contact;
• A clear, predictable, expeditious timeline for processing of applications;
• A process for venues to apply once for a series of events to be held in a single location
under the same conditions; and
• A process for allowing alcoholic beverages to be served outdoors within specified
physical boundaries during outdoor events only.
I FURTHER MOVE that the Department of Finance report back within 60 days on the feasibility
and cost estimate of waiving fees for outside venue permits, business regulatory fees, business
registration, and any other taxes or fees within our legal power to waive that are incurred by
music venues for two years.
I FURTHER MOVE that the Chief Legislative Analyst, with the assistance of the City Attorney,
Bureau of Engineering and Department of Transportation, report back within 60 days on any
changes to State or County Codes that would need to be made in order to effectuate this