SBA To Reopen Applications For Covid-19 Relief For Movie Theater, Live Venues

(AP Photo/Kathleen Voege)

UPDATE, 4:02 PM PT: The Small Business has rescheduled to Monday the reopening of applications for grants to assist movie theaters and live event venues hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SBA indicated earlier in the day that the portal to take applications would be reopened on Saturday, but apparently got feedback that a wiser timeline would be on a business day. The portal will reopen at 9 AM PT/Noon ET.

“It is SBA’s top priority to deliver on the promise and commitment to provide economic lifelines to these hardest-hit venues as soon as possible,” the agency said. “Yet, we understand the challenges they would have experienced with a weekend opening and to ensure the greatest number of businesses can apply for these funds, we decided to reschedule. We remain committed to delivering economic aid to this hard-hit sector quickly and efficiently.”

PREVIOUSLY: The Small Business Administration will reopen applications on Saturday for a program to provide Covid-19 relief grants to distressed movie theaters, legit playhouses and other live event venues.

The application process stalled out earlier this month due to a technical glitch, forcing the SBA to shut down its portal on the first day it was opened, April 8.

Lawmakers had pressed the SBA to fix the problems quickly, given the dire situation for many venues which have been shut down or forced to serious scale back their operations due to the pandemic. The program is called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.

Barb Carson, the deputy associate administrator of the SBA’s office of disaster assistance, said in a statement, “We recognize the urgency and need to get this program up and running,. With venue operators in danger of closing, every day that passes by is a day that these businesses cannot afford. We remain dedicated to delivering emergency aid as quickly as possible and will begin reviewing the applications on Saturday as they are submitted.”

The SBA said that it had addressed other issues as well, including making documentation more user friendly, improved security mechanisms and updating application features. It also said that it added “an industry-standard waiting room technology to address the high interest in the program and provide an orderly application process for fair and smooth performance.”

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant. More than $16 billion was allocated for the grant program as part of two Covid-19 relief packages that incorporated legislation known as the Save Our Stages Act.

The SBA also is recommending that applicants register on the portal in advance, and review FAQs, an applicant user guide and application checklist.

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