Austin-area entertainment venues halted by issues with Small Business Administration website


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local venues in a city proclaimed to be the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ are faced with yet another shutdown.

In December, the Save Our Stages Act passed as part of COVID-19 relief funds, and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established.

Money would go to things like live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, movie theaters, talent representatives and museums, zoos or aquariums who met specific criteria.

Funds through the SVOG program were suppose to be available on April 8, but the website where venues submit an application for money isn’t working.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, which operates the site, posted on its website recognizing the problem earlier this week, saying: “Over the next few days, our tech team and vendors remain focused on testing the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal; we aim to reopen the portal by the end of the week of April 18, 2021. As soon as the exact date is confirmed, we will provide advance notice.”

Senator John Cornyn along with many other U.S. Senators wrote a letter to the Small Business Administration urging that they make the effort to meet the SBA’s goal. The letter reads in part:

“The Administration’s recent announcement that it is “aiming to reopen the portal by the end of next week” is encouraging and we urge the administration to make every effort to meet this goal…. With each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy. Landlords and banks are no longer permitting deferrals…”

The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. Meanwhile, $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

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