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Arts communities unite to save stages
0715 mars at night file
The Mars Theatre in Springfield. - photo by File photo

ATLANTA — In a letter made public Sept. 2, a collective of Georgia artists, independent venues and industry stakeholders — including Springfield’s Mars Theatre — directly pleaded for Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to vote in support of the “Save Our Stages Act” and "RESTART Act."

Endorsed by industry heavyweights including Chuck Leavell, R.E.M and Andre "3000,” the letter represents one part of a multi-layered campaign to convey the critical condition of the entertainment sector and gain support for both relief acts, up for consideration when Congress reconvenes.

“By standing with us, you will help to ensure that Georgia’s independent venues and stages — arguably the industry hardest hit by the pandemic — receive the financial assistance needed to reopen when it’s safe to do so, and simultaneously preserve and protect the extraordinary legacy and lasting future of our homegrown music, arts and culture that will continue to make all Georgians proud,” the letter reads.

Following is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Senators,

We write to you today as members of the music and arts communities and residents of Georgia. The undersigned signatories represent artists, performers, independent venue owners, and small business operators. We join together for the first time out of necessity for the purpose of protecting the ecosystem that underpins Georgia’s arts and entertainment industries.

This economic collapse of this Georgia industry not only endangers our cherished venues and the wider entertainment industry, but also severely impacts educational and community programs, supply chain and local small business operations, and Georgia’s cultural landscape. Because of the ramifications of this irreversible damage, we urge you to support the “Save Our Stages Act” and the “RESTART Act,” each currently before Congress. These measures are critical if independent performing arts and entertainment venues are to survive the ongoing pandemic.

As you know, Georgia has always been a launching ground for world-renowned, diverse talent. Beginning with legendary pioneers such as Ray Charles, Brenda Lee, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Gladys Knight, James Brown, and The Allman Brothers Band, and continuing on even today.

According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the arts industry in Georgia contribute a total of $24 billion in economic activity. A 2017 study by Americans for the Arts reports, that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates just under $720 million in total economic activity and supports over 23,000 jobs, which generates $565 million in household income and delivers $64.5 million in state and local government revenue.

At present, historic venues such as the Rylander Theater in Americus and the Holly Theatre Community Center in Dahlonega are experiencing 80-100 percent revenue loss. Others, like the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, have been closed for over five months and will likely remain closed well into 2021. These facilities are literally shuttered and have been forced to lay off their workers, which has caused a cascading effect on local businesses and the individuals that depend on the industry’s economic activity. Without assistance from Congress, many of these independent venues will be forced to permanently close their doors. Can you imagine Atlanta without The Fox? Or Athens without the 40 Watt? This is a reality that we can’t allow.

We are grateful for the unmitigated support of the many senators and representatives that have already agreed to support the Save Our Stages Act and RESTART Act. By standing with us, you will help to ensure that Georgia’s independent venues and stages — arguably the industry hardest hit by the pandemic — receive the financial assistance needed to reopen when it’s safe to do so, and simultaneously preserve and protect the extraordinary legacy and lasting future of our homegrown music, arts and culture that will continue to make all Georgians proud.

Thank you for your service to the people of  Georgia. 


Adam Shiland, Atlanta (Shiland Creative Group)

Allan Vella, Atlanta (Fox Theatre)

Allison Newberry, Springfield (Mars Theatre)

Amber Nash, Atlanta (Dad’s Garage Theatre, Archer)

Andre “3000” Benjamin, Atlanta (Recording Artist - Outkast)

Andrew Hingley, Atlanta (Eddies Attic)

Andy Gaines, Marietta (Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre)

April Ledbetter, Atlanta (Dust-to-Digital)

Barrie Buck, Athens (40 Watt)

Barron Ruth, Atlanta (Crossover Touring)

Bennett Moon, Athens (Production Coordinator - Jack White, Georgia Theatre)

Bertis Downs, Athens (Attorney)

Bo Henry, Albany (Harvest Moon)

Brent Cobb, Ellaville (Songwriter, Recording Artist)

Brian Renko (Milledgeville/Baldwin County Allied Arts)

Brian McNamara, Atlanta (The Masquerade)

Buddy Nelms, Columbus (The Loft)

Butch Walker (Grammy Nominated Singer/Songwriter/Producer)

Casey Johnson, Decatur (d&b audiotechnik Corporation)

Charles Kelley (Recording Artist - Lady A)

Charlie Brusco, Atlanta (Red Light Management, GA Music Hall of Fame)

Charlie Starr, Atlanta (Recording Artist - Blackberry Smoke)

Christopher Brazelton, Woodstock (Elm Street Cultural Arts Village)

Chuck Leavell, Macon (Rerecording Artist - The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band)

Clay Cook, Atlanta (Zac Brown Band, singer songwriter)

Connie Fritz, Moultrie (Colquitt County Arts Center)

Dave Haywood (Recording Artist - Lady A)

Dave Mattingly, Atlanta (Owner Eddies Attic)

David Barbe, Athens (Director of UGA Music Business Program, Musician, Producer)

David Matthews-Morgan, Winterville (Winterville Auditorium)

David Pratt, Savannah (Savannah Music Festival)

Dean Roland (Collective Soul, Georgia Music Hall of Fame 2009)

Ed Roland, Atlanta (Collective Soul, Georgia Music Hall of Fame 2009)

Eddie Owen, Duluth (Red Clay Music Foundry)

Eric ‘Ricky’ McKinnie (Singer - Blind Boys of Alabama)

George Fontaine, Jr., Athens (New West Records)

Gina Ward, Macon (Historic Douglass Theatre)

Gladys Wyant, Gainesville (The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center)

Heather Stanley, Americus (Ryalnder Theatre)

Hubble Beasley, Macon (Hargray Capitol Theatre)

Jesse Triplett (Collective Soul)

Jessica Akers, Waleska (Falany Performing Arts Center)

Jim Rutland, Columbus (Rivercenter for the Performing Arts)

Johnny Rabb (Collective Soul)

Josh Antenucci, Atlanta (Rival Entertainment & Center Stage)

Karla Redding-Andrews (Otis Redding Foundation) 


Keith Kozicki, Toccoa (Friends of the Ritz, Inc.)

Kenny Creswell, Atlanta (Avatar Events Group - Owner, President)

Kevn Kinney, Atlanta (Recording Artist - Drivin ‘N Cryin)

Kevin Gillese, Atlanta (Dad’s Garage Theatre)

Kit Blanchard, Atlanta (Production Manager - PR.I.S.M.Inc.)

Kristin Norton, Canton (Canton Theatre)

Lance Ledbetter, Atlanta (Dust-to-Digital)

Lucy Lawler-Freas, Atlanta (Owner - Rival Entertainment)

Marc Cohen, City of Sugar Hill, (Eagle Theatre and The Bowl at Sugar Hill)

Matthew Wilson, Atlanta (Attorney)

Michael Dorf (City Winery - Atlanta)

Michael Lacy, Blue Ridge (Blue Ridge Community Theater)

Michelle Picon, Rome (DeSoto Theatre)

Mike McQuary, Atlanta (Brash Music)

Nick Niespodziani, Atlanta (Venkmans)

Nicole Chillemi, Greensboro (Festival Hall)

Patterson Hood, Athens (Recording Artist - Drive By Truckers)

Peter Olsen, Atlanta (Venkmans)

R.E.M., Athens

Rahn Hutcheson, Statesboro (Averitt Center for the Arts)

Rick Ivey, Thomasville (Thomasville Entertainment Foundation)

Roger A. Harrison, Eatonton (The Plaza Arts Center)

Russell Carter, Atlanta (Manager)

Shelli Siebert, Conyers (Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts)

Steve Jones, Atlanta (Brash Music)

Steve Lopez, Athens (Tour Management - Widespread Panic)

Tami Mayhugh, Toccoa (Historic Ritz Theatre)

Tinsley Ellis (Recording artist, Touring bandleader)

Tod Elmore, Atlanta (Hubbub! Music)

Todd Finch, Atlanta (MAGNUM Lighting – President)

Wendy Reid, Rome (Rome City Auditorium)

Wes Griffith, Macon (Hargray Capitol Theatre)

Will Turpin (Collective Soul, Georgia Music Hall of Fame 2009)

William Bell - (Singer, Songwriter, Recording Artist, Wilbe Records)

Yacht Rock Revue, Atlanta (Recording Artist)