Portal offering help for live venues to reopen for business

Portal offering help for live venues to reopen for business
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The online portal to apply for the federal government's grant program for live venues, which have struggled to survive shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is opening on Saturday after it crashed earlier this month.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) initially opened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal on April 8, but it was temporarily suspended hours later. SBA announced on Friday it will reopen it on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. 

“We recognize the urgency and need to get this program up and running,” Barb Carson, deputy associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance, said in a statement. “With venue operators in danger of closing, every day that passes by is a day that these businesses cannot afford."

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For the roughly four hours that the portal was initially open, SBA did not accept any applications or distribute any funding.

“We remain dedicated to delivering emergency aid as quickly as possible and will begin reviewing the applications on Saturday as they are submitted,” Carson said. 

SBA said they worked to fix technology issues the occurred on the April 8 opening and made multiple updates, including clarifying and making program documentation more user-friendly and adding a waiting room technology to address high interest.

Businesses that had to close their doors over a year ago, and largely haven’t reopened yet, were eligible to apply for the program, including live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theaters. Live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives were also eligible. 

The grant program has $16.2 billion to deliver grants from the Save our Stages Act, which was signed into law in December 2020, and the American Rescue Plan. 

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The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which advocated for this program, said in a statement about the reopening that emergency relief can’t come soon enough.

“Every single day that passes small business are receiving eviction notices, all the while $16 billion has been waiting for them. This is a lifeline for thousands of independent venues and promoters in big towns and in small communities across the nation,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA board member and communications director.

She said she was thankful the portal was opening, even if on a Saturday.

“When you’ve had revenue losses of more than 90 percent and are in fear of going under, having the opportunity to apply for the grant is a relief, no matter what day of the week it is. We’re thankful our members won’t have to wait much longer,” she said.

Sens. John CornynJohn CornynSchumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Data reveal big opportunity to finish the vaccine job GOP senators invite Yellen to brief them on debt ceiling expiration, inflation MORE (R-Texas) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises MORE (D-Minn.), co-sponsors of the Save Our Stages Act, called on SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman on Monday to reopen the application portal.

They also asked Guzman in a letter to “continue outreach to potential applicants and finalize guidance that will inform applicants of the precise requirements for eligibility and grant amount.”