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SBA stops opening day for Covid-19 grants for theaters and concert halls – Deadline

A high-profile opening day for struggling cinemas and theaters to apply for federal Covid-19 relief grants has instead failed, as technical difficulties forced the Small Business Administration to close its portal to accept applications.

“SBA is working closely with the portal providers to reopen as soon as possible,” the agency said. “SBA will provide advance notice of the time and date prior to the reopening so that all applicants can be prepared and ensure fair and equal access.”

It is not known if the agency will be able to receive applications on Friday. An SBA spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Save Our Stages law, which provided for $ 15 billion for concert halls particularly affected by the closures and closures of Covid-19, was included in the Covid-19 relief program which was adopted at the end of the month of December. But it has taken the SBA since then to put the application process in place, which included setting out the application criteria and setting up the portal. The SBA also had problems last year when it opened apps for the Paycheck Protection Program, as a flood of demand crushed the system.

Movie theaters and performance venues can start applying for Covid-19 relief grants on April 8

Since then, another billion dollars has been added in additional funds through the American Rescue Plan.

On a Facebook forum, the candidates expressed their frustration not only

Those eligible for the SBA program – called Shuttered Venue Operators Grants – include live venue operators or promoters, theater producers, operators of live performing arts organizations, museum operators, venue operators cinema and talent representatives. Entities that have applied for and received PPP loans are eligible, but they can no longer benefit from these loans if they obtain grants for the sites. Those who received loans after December 27 will see the loan amounts deducted from grants for the sites.

Large entities, such as theater chains with more than 500 employees and those that are publicly traded, are not eligible.

Eligible individuals can apply for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned income, with the maximum amount available for a single grant being set at $ 10 million. The program set aside $ 2 billion for businesses with up to 50 full-time employees. The SBA also unveiled a document checklist that applicants must provide.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the opening date for applications, the SBA Inspector General released a report raising “serious concerns” about the controls put in place to “address the potential misuse of federal funds. ”, Including the lack of sufficient personnel for surveillance. He also raised concerns about the understaffing for the office.

“Currently, the program office has a designated official and its staff are working on a temporary basis,” Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware wrote in the report. “At this time, the SBA has not formalized a staffing plan for this office relative to the expected volume of requests. The agency has also not defined the organizational structure to administer the program. “

One lawmaker, Rep. Blake Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the leading Republican on the House Small Business Committee, called on the SBA to “put the start of this program on hold until serious and major changes are made to protect the integrity of the program. and taxpayer dollars. “

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