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NITO Calls For Action On SVOG Grants

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The National Independent Talent Organization (NITO) has once again issued a clarion call asking its members and supporters to contact their elected representatives in a bid to help to compel Small Business Administration (SBA) to process grant applications for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program.

As NITO noted, tomorrow marks the final day of the 14-day Priority One period in which the SBA had pledged to process all applications for applicants experiencing greater than 90 percent revenue loss and the ongoing failure to provide promised grants represents a mortal threat to the future to potentially thousands of independent live events companies.

We have published NITO’s statement in full below as a measure of our support.


Dear NITO Members,

We write today asking that you once again reach out to your local Congressional representatives regarding the delays and issues surrounding the
Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG). When you write to your representatives today, please tell YOUR story, and how these delays have impacted your ability to successfully open your doors, hire employees, and contribute to your local economy. The deadline to award Priority One grants ends today, and according to the SBA’s June 3rd SVOG Public Report only 50 applicants have received an award notice. This potentially means longer delays for those in the Second and Third Priority periods. This is unacceptable.

We ask that you write your local representatives IMMEDIATELY today (time is of the essence)!

Please include the talking points listed below after telling your story. This information illuminates the issues facing SVOG applicants.

Dear Senator / Congress Person,

The help that Congress secured for those eligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant has yet to arrive. While much of the country begins reopening, our businesses cannot reopen – no longer because of Covid-19 – but because we are still awaiting the implementation of allocated emergency relief.


IMPACT OF DELAY:

The Save Our Stages legislation was signed into law, on December 27, 2020. It provided hope, and optimism that the independent music community could be rescued from the brink of elimination. These past 5 + months have pushed independent venues (NIVA) and independent talent reps (NITO) beyond their limits. We need immediate action, without any further delays. Our SBA contacts in Washington D.C. continue to assure us, that “there is no universe, where the SBA has any intent to not distribute these allocated funds,” but the lack of successful implementation by the SBA belies those statements.

In order to successfully compete with the multi-national corporations (Live Nation, Ticketmaster, AEG) who also operate in the live music sphere, we need these funds to re-open our businesses, rehire our necessary employees, and return to the viable and successful work of years past.

Our businesses contribute billions of dollars to the national economy, provide jobs and livelihoods to untold numbers of workers, and are the stable rocks of culture and artistic expression that are part of the basis of successful communities.

The impact of shuttering of our businesses would have repercussions throughout America, and it might take decades to replace what would be lost.

BY THE NUMBERS

· 165 days (5 ½ months) after enactment of the law and 45 days (1 ½ months) after the SVOG application portal opened (the second time, after the failed launch on April 8) fewer than 100 grant applications have been approved.

·Tomorrow marks the last day of the 14-day Priority One period in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) promised to process all applications for applicants experiencing greater than 90 percent revenue loss. There are nearly 5,000 such applications and SBA has only communicated that 50 applications have been processed.

· The SBA hired 500 reviewers for the SVOG program with funds appropriated by Congress. If each analyzed just one application a day, 17,000 applications would have been processed by now. However, the SBA has processed fewer than 100 applications in the six weeks since the application portal opened.


·More than 4,950 small business owners in the first priority period, those with the greatest need, and an additional 10,000 small businesses that fall into the second and third priority periods are still waiting for emergency relief funding.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

December 27, 2020: SVOG program enacted into law.

March 22, 2021: Isabella Casillas Guzman sworn in as SBA Administrator.

April 8, 2021: SVOG application portal opens, crashes and is closed.

April 26, 2021: SVOG application portal reopens successfully.

May 4, 2021: The SBA reports it “began reviewing the SVOG applications upon receipt and it is expected SVOG Priority One (90% revenue loss) applicants will receive notice of awards this month and disbursement by the end of May if they respond in a timely manner to the notice of award.” This did not happen.

May 26, 2021: Administrator Guzman testified before the House and Senate Small Business Committees that SVOG grants started, and while it would be slow at first there would be a ramp up. This did not happen.

June 3, 2021: SBA reported just 50 award notices (very few of which have actually received emergency relief funds). There has been no update on the number of applicants receiving award notices despite the SBA promise that stakeholders and Congress would be provided daily updates. This did not happen.


June 9, 2021: The last day of the 14-day Priority One period in which SBA promised to process all applications for those suffering greater than 90 percent revenue loss. There are nearly 5,000 such applications and SBA has only communicated that 50 applications have been processed.

SUMMARY

Our members want to underline that we are not looking for a subsidy or hand out…our businesses were shuttered for the health and well-being of our citizenry. These are viable and vital pieces of our national economy and local communities. The continued devastation of the businesses eligible for SVOG funds means that many may never recover with the loss of jobs, cultural centers, and community anchors where many of us live and work.

We need your help and attention now.

All the best,

Team NITO

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