SBA Has Awarded $7.6 Billion of $16 Billion in #SaveOurStages Relief, Many Indie Venues Still Waiting

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According to figures released Monday, the Small Business Adminstration has awarded $7.5 billion of the $16 billion in #SaveOurStages federal relief to independent venues that was signed into law late in December, of which $6.3 billion has been paid out.

While the SBA has done a solid job of moving things forward after six months of disastrous bureaucratic delays — which saw just 100 venues receiving funds as of June 10, resulting in the permanent closure of many other cash-strapped establishments — there is still a long way to go, and many venues say they still have not received a response from the SBA.

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Known as Small Venue Operators Grants (SVOG), the program has moved relatively quickly since it was placed under new supervision in June. Looking at the numbers released on Monday, of the 15,429 applications submitted by venues to the SBA, 9,844 have received “notice of award” — which does not mean they have actually received funds — with 2,718 declined. Some 2,027 businesses — 14% of the total, all of which applied for aid within the first 60 days — have not received notice about their applications.

SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said, “After making improvements to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, the SBA is now delivering money quickly, efficiently and fairly to highly-impacted small businesses and venue operators that are critical to America’s cultural fabric and local economies. When I began my tenure at the SBA, this first-of-its-kind SVOG program was not where I wanted it to be. I’m proud that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented team, we have turned the ship around. America’s small businesses can rest assured that the SBA will continue to work around the clock to provide the relief that is needed to revitalize local economies and build back better from the pandemic and economic crisis.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a key champion of #SaveOurStages with Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Ben Cardin, said: “I am proud to have joined Senators Cardin, Klobuchar, and others to pass the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants into law in December and add even further funding for the program in the American Rescue Plan, and am so happy that the live entertainment and other cultural arts venues in New York and across the country are receiving this desperately needed financial aid. Over the last year, I have visited music halls, theaters and other cultural institutions throughout New York that had been forced to shutter their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. From comedy clubs to concert halls, these cultural institutions are the true heart and soul of New York, and I cannot wait to watch, listen and laugh as they bounce back bigger and better than ever, and I’ll keep working with the SBA to get all of the program’s assistance out the door as soon as possible to help all eligible venues recover.”

“I am grateful that live venues and cultural institutions in Maryland and nationwide are beginning to receive the aid they need to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from the worst economic crisis in nearly 100 years,” Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship said. “I have already heard from many venue operators in Maryland who intend to use their SVOG funds to catch up on bills, quickly rehire staff, and prepare for reopening. Last year life changed for all of us, practically overnight, so I am looking forward to the return of winding box office lines and lit-up marquees in the months ahead as our communities continue to recover from COVID-19.”

The SVOG portal remains open and funding is still available for all eligible applicants. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to provide technical assistance with the SVOG application portal and can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, 1-800-877-8339.

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