MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, businesses remain closed.
One of the businesses hit the hardest are music venues, including the historic Cine El Rey Theater in McAllen.
A new bill was introduced called “Save Our Stages Act.”
The historic building in McAllen hosts concerts and plays and has been closed for months because it’s considered a place where large gatherings take place.
“I know in my heart it’s not right for us to be open and I’m willing to abide by all the pandemic restrictions. I also know in my heart we’re not getting a fair shake as far as assistance,” said Bert Guerra, co-owner of the historic theater, adding the last four months have been a struggle.
“Anybody can not just think about not make money for four months is very tough. There’s no doubt we had money for a rainy day, rainy days turned into weeks turned into months. It’s been very difficult to operate,” he said.
He joined the newly formed National Independent Venue Association to help advocate for halls and venues with lawmakers to keep historic theatre alive.
The “Save Our Stages Act” was introduced this week. The goal would offer relief funds for up to six months to independent venue operators to help cover expenses during the pandemic. The historic theatre didn’t receive any funding from the paycheck protection program or any grants from the Small Businesses Association.
“The problem that we have here and many other independent venues is that we don’t really hire full-time employees. All our staff is freelance; wait staff, bartenders and especially musicians,” he said.
Texas Senator John Cornyn and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the bill.
The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.Senator Cornyn
Bert hopes the historic theater will continue to be a cultural hub.
“We create a community, a very strong economic community for each city. Once you go see a band you’re going to book a hotel you’re going to buy food, even on the local level, we’re vital,” he said.
The act was just introduced, no decision has been made yet if it passes or not.
Bert said if it doesn’t, it’ll be tough, but he’s exploring other options to keep the theater open.
For way to help keep the theater open, click here.