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Mississippi Studios Owner Jim Brunberg Has Spent the Pandemic Lobbying for Financial Aid on Behalf of Oregon’s Music Venues. He Finally Got It.

Brunberg considers the funding from the CARES Act a life-saver. But for many arts venues, the future remains uncertain.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Last week, Oregon arts venues scored a victory that venue owners had been pushing for for months—industry-specific pandemic financial relief.

On July 14, the Oregon Legislature's Emergency Board approved $50 million in CARES Act funding to go toward the state's art ecosystem. Dozen of venues across the state will receive allocations for seven months to help them stay afloat.

According to Jim Brunberg—founder of the Independent Venue Coalition and owner of Mississippi Studios, Polaris Hall and Revolution Hall—that funding is a life-saver for small venues, which were among the fist businesses to close and will be some of the last to reopen, but have received little to no federal financial aid during the pandemic.

Related: Oregon Music Venues Are Banding Together to Lobby for Financial Aid to Survive the Coronavirus.

"It gives us a little bit of a chance to stop falling off the cliff," he says, "and catch our breath on this ledge that they've given us."

Still, many cultural venues are essentially completely without revenue for an indefinite period of time—and there's a lot that the relief money doesn't cover.

"There's a whole list of things, but I don't want to sound like I'm complaining," says Brunberg. "There are some leaking roofs in Astoria that are going to need fixing this winter. This doesn't cover that, for example."

WW talked to Brunberg about what the funding will and won't help with, and how the IVC plans to address the lack of POC venue owners in Oregon.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.