Arts and Culture

The building that’s home to the popular Louisville music venue Headliners Music Hall is for sale. 

Headliners co-owner Billy Hardison, who is also co-founder of Louisville promotion company Production Simple and a former marketing and special events coordinator for Louisville Public Media, said while the facility is for sale, they hope to keep the business going. He said they hope they’ll be able to lease the space from whoever buys it, if and when they can resume live concerts. 

“This is obviously not optimal,” Hardison said in an email to WFPL about the sale. “But this is part of what it’ll take to save our businesses that have been at negative revenue since mid-March.”

The venue has been shuttered for months due to the pandemic. So not only are they not earning any revenue right now, they’ve also been “going backwards” because they’ve had to refund tickets to canceled concerts and events, he explained.

According to its listing, the asking price is $995,000. 

The question of if and when is a big one for the live music industry. While arts and culture facilities are reopening in Louisville and around the country, there’s been a lot of angst expressed among music professionals about how safe it is to resume live performance with a virus still spreading throughout communities and no vaccine available yet. 

There is national guidance for live events, including one released by the nonprofit Event Safety Alliance in mid-May. Things like reduced audience capacity, cashless transactions, health screenings and ways to avoid people lining up are crowding in one area of the venue are all things that industry professionals are looking into. 

Hardison is Kentucky’s precinct captain for the recently founded National Independent Venue Association, or NIVA, a coalition of nearly 2,000 independent venues and promoters that came together during the pandemic to sound the alert for the devastating impact the pandemic could have on their industry. NIVA has been lobbying the federal government to make changes to the COVID-19 relief package so it would provide more support for the live music industry.

In mid-June, three Democratic U.S. senators, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Chris Coons of Delaware and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire introduced the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program Act, which would expand the PPP lending program to allow smaller businesses and prevent large corporations from getting a share. In a press release, they said the bill would “ensure that underserved and hardest-hit businesses,” such as the arts and entertainment industries. A companion bill was introduced in the House.

This post has been updated.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.