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Entertainment venue relief grants still on hold

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Technical difficulties have delayed the online application for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which originally was created and funded by Congress more than three months ago.

The U.S. Small Business Administration had expected the online portal to launch Thursday. But the portal site had a notice indicating that technical difficulties were being experienced. Applicants can still create an account, but cannot yet apply for the money.

The portal site, which can be accessed through the program website at www.sba.gov/svogrant, indicated that the SBA is working with vendors to correct the program as soon as possible.

According to an SBA announcement, $16.2 billion is available for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, and museums and movie theaters, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives who had to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions.

The grant fund was developed by provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of December 2020 and the American Rescue Plan signed in March. The SBA said it has worked with numerous federal organizations and professional and trade groups to create the guidelines for the program.

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“The SBA is committed to moving as quickly as possible to deliver this vital funding effectively and equitably — ensuring relief goes to those venue operators whose revenues have been most impacted by the pandemic,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

Grant applications will be processed as they are received, but priority will be given for the first 14 days to those businesses that experienced a 90% or greater revenue loss from April to December 2020. The next 14 days will provide funding for those that lost 70% or more of their revenues. The third priority period will be for businesses that have 25% or greater revenue losses, with any remaining funding after that available for prior recipients who had losses greater than 70%.

In addition, $2 billion is reserved for the first 59 days for entities with 50 or fewer employees.

Entities can receive grants of up to 45% of their gross earned revenues, with a maximum award of $10 million. The money can be used for payroll, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, taxes and other business expenses.

Program updates, video tutorials, an application checklist and eligibility requirements and other information is on the SVOG website. Assistance is also available from SBA partner organizations such as Small Business Development Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and Women’s Business Centers.

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