The SBA’s decision to reopen the portal on Saturday, more than two weeks after it crashed upon on launch on April 8, was met with a flurry of negative comments Thursday due to the short advanced notice. But representatives with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which played a key role drafting the $15 billion Shuttered Venue Operators aid package, released a statement supporting the decision to reopen the application process on a weekend day.
“Simply put, this is emergency relief that can’t come too soon,” says Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA board member and communications director. “Every single day that passes small businesses are receiving eviction notices, all the while $16 billion has been waiting for them. This is a lifeline for thousands of independent venues and promoters in big towns and in small communities across the nation. When you’ve had revenue losses of more than 90 percent and are in fear of going under, having the opportunity to apply for the grant is a relief, no matter what day of the week it is. We’re thankful our members won’t have to wait much longer.”
Many of NIVA’s 3,000 members have brought in little to no revenue since last March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down concerts around the country. Without aid from the federal support package passed on Dec. 27, NIVA has claimed 90% of its members would be forced to shutter forever.
Since the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was passed in late December, the SBA has been tasked with creating the program and processes from scratch. Andrea Roebker, a regional communications director at the SBA, told Billboard in March that while the SBA was able to distribute Paycheck Protection Program loans soon after the CARES Act passed in March 2020, those were handled by delegated bankers, and the venue grants program is a “different animal,” noting that this is the first time the department has created a grant process focused on for-profit entities.