Shuttered Venue Grants Coming In April, Promising Relief For Concert Presenters : NPR

Music venues like the Chicago metro have been waiting long and uncertainly for the aid that Congress passed in December. Hide caption KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP via Getty Images

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Music venues like the Chicago metro have been waiting long and uncertainly for the aid that Congress passed in December.


Most people in the live music industry loved it when Congress passed bipartisanism Save our law of degrees In December. A $ 15 billion grant program, run by the Small Business Administration, has been launched to help save an industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But then there were skeptics like Matt Garrison, co-founder of Shapeshifter Lab, a small music and arts club in Brooklyn, NY

“I said, ‘Yes, yes: I’ll believe it when I see it.’ And I said that months ago, “says Garrison.

It is now March and the website for companies to apply for this program – known as Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) – is not yet operational. The SBA assumes that the portal for applications will be available until “early April”.

Barb Carson, the assistant associate administrator for the Office of Disaster Assistance at SBA, says her agency has never done a project like SVOG before.

“We never had the authority to have a scholarship program like this or that large,” says Carson.

The scholarship is not only open to music venues, but also to small cinemas, museums, live theaters – even zoos and aquariums. In addition, the rules and regulations were constantly changing. It was only today, with the adoption of the American rescue plan, that money was added to the fund and other changes were made the admission rules. Carson says the SBA plans to hold an information session at the end of the month before the applications open so everyone is on the same page.

Companies like Garrison had to find ways to adapt to uncertainty. He and his business partner Fortuna Sung turned Shapeshifter Lab into it become a non-profit association. But they are still facing rising rental costs as well as a pile of electricity and insurance bills. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Garrison, if this scholarship fails to materialize in the coming months.

Liz Tallent is in a similar situation. She is the event manager of The orange peel, a 1,100-person standing-only club in Asheville, NC When the news broke from SVOG, she was realistic about when she might see the money. But she thought of seeing the money before tax season, provided she didn’t have to worry about applying for the grant while filing taxes at the same time. “But now I’m not so sure,” she says.

Chris Zacher is the managing director of Levitt Pavilion Denver, a large amphitheater that hosts free concerts for the public. Since it’s a nonprofit, he’s used to how long the grant process takes and he’s sensitive to the timeline. However, he points out that the waiting time is even longer for some venues. The SVOG will grant money based on levels. A company that has lost 90 percent or more of its sales gets dibs on the money first. So if applications are opened on April 1, but a company is at a later level, Zacher estimates that it will not be able to file an application until May.

“You’re seeing half a year almost after the law went into effect before some of these venues can apply,” he says.

And that’s if there is still money left by then. Zacher isn’t sure there is enough money to cover every business in need. Carson says the SBA won’t know the answer to that question until the applications are open.

Zacher, chairman of the Colorado Independent Venue Association, has advised local businesses to finish their records and line up books. But, he adds, while preparation could make companies feel better, it’s the money they really need.

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