Independent music venues in the US are still yet to receive any federal relief from the Small Business Administration (SBA) despite the Save Our Stages Act passing into law five months ago.
The coronavirus-enforced shutdown of live music in 2020 had sparked fears that many venues across the country would have to close permanently, but the passing of the Save Our Stages Act in December – which guarantees independent venues and theatres $16 billion (£11.27 million) in federal relief grants – raised hopes of a recovery for the live music sector in the US.
The Wall Street Journal reports that over 12,000 independent venues in the US have applied for Shuttered Venue Operators Grants since the SBA began accepting applications on April 26.
However, as of yet, no funding has been distributed. The SBA had initially said that it intended to start processing federal aid last week.
A representative for the SBA told Variety yesterday (May 24) that “the SBA is committed to quickly and efficiently delivering this pandemic relief to help our theatres, music venues, and more get the help they need”.
“While there continues to be some fine-tuning of technical components of the program, we expect SVOG Priority 1 (90 per cent revenue loss) awards to tentatively begin next week, kicking off a 14-day priority period. We will then move on to begin processing Priority 2 awards.”
The National Independent Venue Association’s Audrey Fix Schaefer told Variety that “this emergency relief can’t come soon enough for those on the precipice of going under”.
“We’ll be very grateful when the money is distributed as Congress intended. It’s been very hard to hold on, but even tougher to plan for reopening without the money to hire back staff, rent venues and secure acts with deposits. It will be incredible when the $16 billion Congress earmarked to save our stages becomes a reality.”
Yesterday saw the US version of Independent Venue Week announce plans for the 2021 edition of their annual festival.