Music venues still struggling with no help

Autumn Page, Staff Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many music venue halls and companies financial struggle, and they still have no aid from the state or federal government. 

Carey Denha, the owner of The Magic Bag and CEO of Tangerine Moon Productions, has been personally affected by the lack of aid.

The Magic Bag, located in Ferndale, is a comedy and music venue, and Tangerine Moon Productions is a high-end tribute act group.

The Magic Bag hosts events like The Mega ’80s, which features music and videos from the ’80s. 

Denha is also a singer and one of the acts. He was affected in more than just his businesses. 

In March, he got diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I could probably sing today, but it’s been a rough road. I would be considered, what they, call a long hauler,” he said.

It isn’t just his companies that are struggling — the entire industry has pretty much decimated. 

“There are multiple problems that have occurred — how it works is that you have bands that tour and they’re booked by agents,” Denha said. “So the agents that booked the acts, since the acts can’t tour, the agencies are falling apart. The musicians aren’t making money and the venues are having to close.” 

All independent music venues still haven’t received any relief. 

“No, no [I haven’t received] state or federal. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) are lobbying congress on behalf of all the independent music venues throughout the nation,” Denha said. “All the independent venues used to be in competition with each other, but now we’ve all banded together to fight for survival. We’re coming together to try to push congress to fund us and open.” 

Artists are stepping up and spreading awareness about the NIVA initiative, and two bills are in the works that could help these venues. 

The #SaveMIstages relief from NIVA isn’t the only action being taken. Going online to savemistages.com and sending an email to local elected officials or texting “Go SaveMIstages” to 50409 to send a letter to Governor Whitmer are ways to help.

The Save Our Stages bill and The Restart Act, which go in hand with The Heroes Act. Both provide relief to independent and small companies.

“Pretty much every week, something is closing in the United States,” Denha said. 

He closed down around March 16 and wouldn’t reopen, right now if given the chance.

He said he isn’t going to reopen until there’s a vaccine or a chance to vaccinate. 

“I don’t think taking temperatures at the doors really works because it doesn’t work on asymptomatic cases, which we’ve learned is one of the biggest problems — you can have it and not know it. The best guarantee is understanding the virus and science and waiting until there’s a vaccine.” 

He’s responsible for every event The Magic Bag has and doesn’t want anyone at risk. 

“I’d rather go out of business than put anyone at risk,” he said. 

When asked what advice he would give for anyone wanting to help, Denha focused on wearing a mask to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“The faster we can contain the outbreak, the sooner we can open.”