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As pandemic deepens, little hope in sight for Western MT concert business

Nick Checota
Posted at 1:38 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 19:55:22-05

MISSOULA — While most businesses are hurting as the COVID-19 pandemic deepens, the music and concert industry in Western Montana -- and across the U.S. -- continues to see a small fraction of last year's business.

Local promoter Nick Checota is worried that the entire industry is within weeks of a complete collapse unless there's some help from Washington, DC.

Just weeks before the pandemic hit, Checota was expressing confidence for a big year for productions from Logjam Presents, with a full bill at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater and other Missoula venues.

But those plans came to a screeching halt as acts began to cancel tours. Checota says it hasn't improved since then, especially with no movement on the "Save Our Stages" legislation to provide financial assistance.

"We're operating at less than one-half-of-one-percent of the revenue of the prior year. So for us, basically we have no revenue coming in. But we still have property taxes. We still have overhead at the venues. We still have our mortgage payments on the venues," Checota explained.

"So, Save Our Stages was an incredibly important bill for us, and it's neither party's fault. Both parties, in my opinion, are behaving badly and we really need some of them to get something done," he added.

Checota says Logjam Presents has been forced to lay off 125 people since the pandemic started, but he says the layoffs and loss of infrastructure for the music industry go much deeper, with the danger of the entire system collapsing.