Colorado venue owner appeals to Polis, Hancock for opening independent music venues

Colorado venue owner appeals to Polis, Hancock for opening independent music venues

MusicJune 24, 2020

Opening up the Colorado economy after months of a shutdown turned out to be more of a shitshow than many public officials anticipated. Unfortunately for many businesses owners, the cumbersome guidelines and lack of clarity are more than an evening news talking point; it’s their livelihoods and business futures on the line.  

As most businesses open the doors and turn the lights back on, one industry is still in the dark, independent music venues. According to the owner of the Roxy music venue in Denver, Travis Regan, Polis, Hancock and Gardner have done little to assuage their concern as an ongoing business. This led Regan to write a letter to the three amigos asking them to address the independent music venues’ concerns much like they’ve done for bars and restaurants. 

The ongoing shutdown will continue to take venues down if it’s not dealt with. Operating venues on 50 person capacities is just not plausible and should be reconsidered says Regan. We agree. Read the email in its entirety below. 

Governor Polis, Mayor Hancock, Senator Cory Gardner and Community leaders,

I’m writing to you today to ask why you have not addressed music venues in our beautiful state of Colorado. Since the COVID-19 shut down, music venues independent and corporate have been 100% affected and completely shut down with no direction about re-opening or assistance provided by our leaders. As you know, Colorado is one of the nations top markets for live entertainment. Our culture can be heard throughout the country and is the blueprint when discussing live entertainment. Music is the heartbeat to the soul, the universal language for all people yet the entertainment industry continues to receive the cold shoulder during these tough times. Independent venues like the Roxy and many others continue to pay monthly property taxes, licensing fees, credit card debt, mortgages, triple nets and more. We’ve laid off all of our staff and forfeited our own salaries in an attempt to survive these unprecedented and challenging times. I understand and respect the decision to shut down for a short period in order to gain an understanding about the COVID-19 virus and pandemic, but the shut down is no longer sustainable and forcing permanent business closures and financial devastation. When considering the big picture, it's evident that independent venues that have been alive and flourishing for decades are now beginning to close, for example, The Three Kings. This venue is a staple for mid-sized venues and touring musicians for Denver’s entertainment industry. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 they were forced to close their doors and many other venues are now facing the same circumstances. The impact this will have on one of Colorado's most talked about industries will change the shape of our music scene for generations to come.

 In response to the Governor's briefing on June, 15, 2020 possibly allowing events up to 50 people leads me to question the success for mid-sized rooms that accommodate 250 to 700 people. If venues are forced to open with a limited capacity of 50 people, we will experience a financial deficit related to staffing requirements, taxes and general overhead. This is in addition to the months of advance planning and preparation required to coordinate live events. Today, I am asking for some insight and guidance about your plans to allow entertainment venues to re-open at full capacity and forgiveness on the financial impacts required to sustain this period such as property taxes, mortgages or leases and proration of licensing costs. This is a very small request considering the millions of dollars the entertainment industry contributes in taxes annually to this great State. We are doing everything we can to stay alive and work with our communities during these unprecedented times and are looking to your leadership to help us to stay afloat.

Travis Ragan and The Roxy Theatre