San Francisco supervisor proposes recovery fund for hard-hit entertainment industry

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney introduced legislation Tuesday that would create a fund to help the city's struggling music and entertainment venues, which have had their doors closed since March.

According to Haney, the San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund is desperately needed as many of the businesses are facing permanent closure as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"What this pandemic has done to our economy and our way of life has been nothing short of a nightmare, and for our city's venues, there has been no reprieve. They were the first to close and will likely be the among the last to reopen," Haney said in statement.

"Some places were able to get PPP loans at the beginning of the pandemic, but for most of these venues, that money was gone in a month of two. Venues have been shut down for almost a year now. People are going into huge amounts of debt, many of these folks are afraid they will never be able to financially recover from this, let alone keep their venues open. We have got to do something, and we've got to do it now," said San Francisco Small Business Commission President Sharky Laguna.

Although Congress recently passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which included $15 billion set aside for theaters and entertainment venues, Haney said the funds are likely insufficient to prevent permanent closures.

Since the onset of the pandemic, several San Francisco venues have shuttered permanently, including famed-music venue Slims and The Stud, the city's oldest LGBTQ venue.

"When we talk about the heart and soul of San Francisco, many of us think of our city's venues," Haney said. "The many shows we've seen and the bands and artists and music that have all come out of San Francisco, they inspire us and bring us together. These spaces are a reflection of who we are and what we love, and they are in danger of disappearing."

A recent report from the city controller's office revealed nightlife businesses generate $7.2 billion for the local economy and create more than 63,000 jobs, which in turn generates some $80 million annually in payroll and sales taxes for the city.

Haney's legislation is set to be heard at a Board of Supervisors committee next month.