More than four months after the $16 billion #SignOurStages act was signed into law, and more than two weeks after the website through which venues could apply for federal aid launched and immediately crashed, the Small Business Administration says it will reopen Saturday — tomorrow — April 24.
Independent music venues and theaters in the U.S., which have been mostly shuttered for 13 months now, greeted the news with a combination of relief, deep cynicism and annoyance that it’s happening on a weekend. But because the money will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis — and is likely to go quickly — there is little choice in the matter.
Earlier this week, multiple senators and congresspeople sent a letter to SBA chief Isabella Guzman calling for the site to be reopened as soon as possible, and the SBA said on social media that it hoped to relaunch by the end of this week. At least on paper, they’re hitting that mark, although as of Friday morning there were no details on what time the site will reopen (the agency said it will be announced later in the day).
“We have completed rigorous testing and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal will reopen on April 24,” the SBA announced on Twitter at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday. “We will provide updated documents and guidance tomorrow. Interested applicants should register for an account in advance.”
The link to the portal is svograntportal.sba.gov.
In response to the congresspeople’s letter earlier this week, the National Independent Venues Association said in a statement: “The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant earned extensive bipartisan support when it was signed into law December 27, 2020, but it hasn’t been rolled out yet, so we’re gratified that 114 days later, Congress is once again expressing its intention to Save Our Stages. Today, 164 bipartisan Congressional signers are asking Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman to act with a sense of urgency and open the $16 billion emergency relief program. Our members are anxiously awaiting, as they’ve been without revenue but still saddled with all of their overhead for the last 13 months. Without SVOG, there will be a mass collapse of our industry. Our Congressional champions from both sides of the aisle understand that we will be part of the economic renewal of our communities across America when this emergency relief arrives.”
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