Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Dina Titus (1st District of Nevada)
Somehow in the pandemic crisis, I remembered the last time I saw U.S. Rep Dina Titus before the entertainment shutdown. It was at the Composers Showcase of Las Vegas at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz, a very Vegas hang teeming with the city’s best artists.
Yes, Titus is a live entertainment fan and supporter. I caught up with her this week as federal assistance to help the entertainment industry is still stalled like a sidelined Cirque show.
“The Senate hasn’t passed anything, and the president’s been all over the map, ‘Send me a package; no, don’t sent me anything; send me piecemeal; no, wait till after the election,’ ” Titus said. “So, they’re negotiating, but right now it’s not making much progress.”
Titus, whose 1st Congressional District covers the entertainment capital of the world, says support from the federal level is overdue. It’s a $10 billion aid package with nowhere to go at the moment. Titus rolled back the history of what became of the Save Our Stages Act — beginning with the Cares Act — targeted at unemployed entertainment workers.
“In the Cares Act, the first bill that we passed, there was a provision for unemployment for people who are independent contractors, and you know they don’t traditionally qualify for unemployment,” Titus said. “It was a loan program that was set up for small businesses, but it didn’t really accommodate entertainment venues.
“So we went back with the Save Our Stages Act, rolled in to the Heroes Act, out of the House and trying to get it included in some kind of compromise package.”
Save Our Stages is the $10 billion grant program to help offset the the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on independent live venue operators, producers, promoters or talent representatives. The legislation passed in the House on Oct. 1 but is stalled in the Senate.
A fundraiser for the campaign is set for Friday through Sunday at SaveOurStages.com/sos. The event is raising awareness, advocacy and donations for the National Independent Venue Association. G-Eazy, Marshmello with Demi Lovato, Jason Mraz, Kelsea Ballerini, Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters, The Roots, Little Big Town, Dave Matthews, The Lumineers and Reba McEntire are in the lineup.
Titus reiterated Las Vegas’ position, chiseled over decades, as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. Those who are out of work in the entertainment industry, and across the hospitality culture, need to be sustained until the city returns to full tourism and convention business.
“Our reputation, the reputation of Las Vegas, has gone so far beyond just being a gambling town,” Titus said. “It is an entertainment town, it’s a sports town, it’s a fine dining town. We’ve got all the chefs here, and we just want to be sure that we don’t lose that image.”Titus reps the megaresorts on the Strip, and many small businesses in downtown Las Vegas.
“All of the Arts District, The Smith Center, the small restaurant venues where you’ve got a little jazz combo playing,” Titus said. “So it really has hit District 1 harder than anyplace else.”
Titus says in the extended timeline, presenting Las Vegas as a safe place to return to business and vacations is paramount to recovery. She chairs the subcommittee that oversees economic development, which funds tourism agencies to help promote such venues as the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“You saw this in the Gulf (of Mexico), after the big oil spill (in 2010), where the Gulf put out advertisements nationally and even internationally, ‘Hey, we’re back in business. Come back to see us,’ ” she said. “We will need that for places like Las Vegas, ‘Hey, we’re back in business’ and ‘What happens here,’ that sort of thing.”
Titus says that Las Vegas resorts have emphasized safety to those visiting the city.
“One thing that I have heard is that there was a fear that people wouldn’t want to come to Las Vegas and that the casinos didn’t want to have a lot of sanitary things around or masks or temperatures or all of that,” Titus said. “How would that affect people’s idea of fun? But it’s turned out just the opposite, people feel more reassured by seeing all of that. It makes a difference, and people feel like they’re safe and they can have fun.”