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NIVA Celebrates Its First Birthday As The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program Begins Accepting Applications

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(CelebrityAccess) — On Thursday, the National Independent Venue Association will celebrate its signal achievement as applications open for more than $16 billion in aid as part of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.

The program, which opens its grant application window on April 8th, launched almost a year to the day after NIVA, which began as a zoom call among concerned venue professionals in March of 2020, officially launched on April 9th, 2020.

Since then, the organization has grown rapidly to represent more than 3,000 venues, promoters and festivals in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories.

“While no one gave us any hope that we could get legislation passed—after all, we didn’t exist before the pandemic,” said Dayna Frank, Owner & CEO, First Avenue Productions and Board President of NIVA. “This band of Type A independent small businesspeople came together in desperation and fought as hard for each other as they did for themselves. The opening of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is a culmination of all of our hard work—365 days of juggling our own individual business affairs with our tireless organizational and advocacy work with NIVA, all with no income – and is just an incredible relief. While the weight remains on our shoulders until the funds are actually distributed, seeing the light at the end of this tunnel fills me with hope for the future of our industry. As I’ve been saying since the beginning, ‘First we survive, then we thrive.’ As vaccination numbers continue to improve and emergency relief is on its way, we know one day soon we will.”

NIVA and its Save Our Stages campaign played a key role in the passage of the SVOG program and the organization helped to craft the legislation that was supported by more than 2 million letters to Congress.

“We were undoubtedly the underdogs here,” said Adam Hartke, owner of The Cotillion and WAVE in Wichita and co-chair of NIVA’s Advocacy Committee. “To go from formation to legislation in just eight months is a true testament to the severity of the situation and the strength of our industry when we’re united. We’re only here today because of the support of Akin Gump, Casey Higgins, Ed Pagano, Senator Cornyn, Senator Klobuchar, Leader Schumer, Representative Welch, Representative Williams, and everyone in our industry who stood by us, from the fans to the artists to the staff. To them and to all of you who voiced your support—thank you.”

“Most people would be stunned by how far we’ve come in such a short period of time, but independent promoters and venue owners are truly the most dedicated and hard-working people imaginable,” added NIVA Executive Director Rev. Moose. “Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, it’s about so much more than just returning to shows. While we all can’t wait to see people fill our venues to enjoy the music, comedy, and entertainment that bring us all together, I’m excited to see the progress and changes NIVA is able to accomplish in the future in pursuit of a healthy, independent industry that serves and includes a diverse community of artists, fans, and industry workers at every level.”

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