WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) – While many people in the live entertainment industry breathed a sigh of relief at the passage of the Save Our Stages Act in December, the financial aid promised by the legislation has been slow to materialize. That appears as if will change next month as the Small Business Administration says it plans to launch a portal for applications for the program by “early April.”
The legislation passed in December created the $15 billion dollar Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program which is intended to help independent music venues, as well as movie theaters, museums and aquariums that have been affected by the mass gathering restrictions imposed by states trying to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The program will be further bolstered by the $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden this week, which allocated an additional $1.25bn in funds for the SVOG program as well as $840,000 earmarked for the SBA staff to facilitate COVID-related programs.
The new economic relief package signed this week also extends eligibility for existing programs. Previously, the law forbade eligible entities such as venue operators from applying for both a Payroll Protection Plan loan after Dec. 27th, and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
The amended rules now allow eligible entities to apply for PPP2 loans until March 31, 2021, and also seek SVO grants when the applications are made available by the Small Business Administration next month.
“Now that independent venues and promoters can be eligible for both PPP2 and SVOG, we’re hoping Congress will extend the deadline for applying for PPP2, since it’s set to close March 31, or in just 14 business days,” say Adam Hartke, NIVA’s Advocay Cochair and owner of The Cotilion and WAVE in Wichita, Ks.
The National Independent Venue Association, an advocacy group for independent venue operators formed in response to the pandemic, and which played a key role in the lobbying effort to pass the Save Our Stages act, applauded the changes.
“This change can save countless venues from bankruptcy, as the immediate PPP2 money will help them hold on until the SVOG funds flow,” said Dayna Frank, NIVA Board President and CEO of First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis. “This entire industry is grateful to President Biden for the relief the Majority Leader Senator Schumer for spearheading this provision and Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar for championing our cause with the Save Our Stages Act.”
“The quicker the SBA can staff up and roll out this program, the better. To say our members are frantic and anxious is an understatement. The eviction notices have been coming at an even faster pace as time goes by without this emergency relief,” added Frank.