"Everything's turning on so fast," says Stephen Chilton, owner of the Rebel Lounge. "But we have no revenue coming in now and it's hard to staff up enough to handle that volume."
Concerts are coming back with what looks to be a busy, competitive fall season. But the Small Business Association’s sluggish rollout of the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program that Congress approved in December is leaving independent venues and promoters ill-prepared for a robust return.
For the past 15 months, venues have been largely shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions. The SVOG was created to save indie venues from permanent closure and level the playing field with corporate competitors Live Nation and AEG, which relied on borrowing during the pandemic -- except that the checks haven’t gone out yet and no one’s certain who’s getting one. As of June 21, only 677 venues and promoters had received SVOG funds from the SBA, about 13.5% of those that applied. And although many of these spaces can open up now, that only intensifies their need for funds so they can rehire employees, make deposits to book acts, hold shows and start bringing in money again.