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Portland’s Music Venues Can Finally Sell Tickets Again, but the City’s Musicians Are Still Struggling

MusicPortland intends to use half of its proposed budget from the city to start an artist grant.

For the first time in over a year, music venues across the city have started selling tickets to shows. Now, after a year of uncertainty, Portland clubs once again have sold-out shows on their calendars.

But according to Meara McLaughlin, executive director of MusicPortland, the local music industry still has a lot to overcome.

“[Venues] take risks every time they start ticketing a show, because it may fall to pieces,” says McLaughlin. “Venues are not out of the woods.”

Earlier this month, the Portland City Council released a proposed budget that includes $100,000 for MusicPortland, the first time the city has set aside some of its budget for the local, for-profit music industry. Some of that money will go to hiring MusicPortland staff, since the organization was previously run mostly by volunteers. Half will go to the first round of a grant program for local musicians, many of whom have yet to benefit from the industry slowly starting up again.

“The venues are still in a tough spot,” says McLaughlin. “Because it takes three, four months in advance to book a schedule, what has normally happened is that local artists are the last ones to get plugged in.”

WW talked to McLaughlin about the challenges that musicians and venues still face.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.