After a weekslong delay, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program is finally back online.
Run by the Small Business Administration, the program will administer over $16 billion to venues across the country. The grant offers a lifeline for Portland’s entertainment spaces, many of which have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic and have no idea when they’ll be able to open again.
The long-awaited grant first launched on April 8, only to shut down within hours due to unspecified technical difficulties. No relaunch date was given at the time.
Last week, the National Independent Venue Association, a coalition that includes Portland concert halls, released a statement expressing frustration with the delay.
“Our members are anxiously awaiting, as they’ve been without revenue but still saddled with all of their overhead for the last 13 months,” reads the statement. “Without SVOG, there will be a mass collapse of our industry.”
Today, more than three weeks since its first attempted launch, the program reopened for applications. Over the next few weeks, the SBA will award grants to venues, starting with businesses that lost at least 90% of their revenue due to the pandemic.
The relaunch was announced last Friday. In response, NIVA issued another statement, this time expressing relief.
“Simply put, this is emergency relied that can’t come too soon,” NIVA communications director Audrey Fix Schaefer said in the release. “Every single day that passes, small businesses are receiving eviction notices, all the while $16 billion has been waiting for them.”