“Everyone is frustrated,” said Chilton, who said he and other members of the NIVA board were constantly on the phone with those in charge of sites that are quickly running out of money. Some have been able to borrow money, but many lenders are reluctant to lend funds to site owners with little cash and no federal funds guarantee.
In the two weeks since the SBA began approving requests for funds, $ 127.9 million of the $ 16 billion has been allocated, an average of $ 1.42 million per grant, according to a SVOG progress report released Wednesday. A total of 14,020 entities requested $ 11.4 billion of the $ 16 billion with 4,661 pending requests and 9,269 other requests in the “submitted” category.
In order to receive funds, venues had to certify that they functioned as independent musical performance spaces, a requirement instituted by Congress to prevent fraud. But the molasses-like pace with which the SBA reviews nominations, “threatens” the future of many beloved places “Arizona representative and former Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton written in an open letter to SBA administrator Isabelle Casillas Guzman.
So far, the deployment and execution of the SBA grant program has been a disaster. Site operators waited three and a half months after the program took effect before the SBA opened a portal to apply – only to see the portal crash the same day, “Stanton noted.” Today hui, a site operator in my district wrote to me: ‘We are past our breaking point. We can no longer hang on. Tell me please: what are my constituents supposed to be doing – about to shut down their business forever? “
Guzman promised at a House Small Business Committee hearing on May 26 that the administration had started issuing award notices for the grant, with 30 notices issued in the first week, followed by another 60 over the course of the next seven days.
Adam hartke, owner of Wave and The Cotillion rooms in Wichita, tells Billboard the slowness and lack of response was “frustrating”. Both Hartke’s sites fall under the Priority 1 category, and the extent of the SBA’s communication with him has been the shift of his application from “submitted” to “under review” three weeks ago.
Hartke is also co-chair of the NIVA Defense Committee and constituency captain for Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska. Of the few hundred sites in its enclosure, only three were notified of the awards and none received funding for “hire employees, pay rent, pay installments on groups and productions, order food and drink to serve customers, ”and pay for capital expenses, according to NIVA’s letter to Congress.
The letter adds that it has been 165 days (5½ months) since the law was enacted and 45 days (1½ months) after the SVOG application portal opened (the second time, after the failed launch April 8).
Hartke admits to being nervous about hosting one of his first sold-out concerts at Wave tonight. “We have a hard time paying the regular show expenses that occur with a sold-out show. The only reason we’re so skinny is because we’ve spent all of our reserves and all the money we had in our bank account to keep us going for the past 15 months.
Several sources, including Hartke, informed Billboard that the delays were caused by problems with the SVOG-specific version of IRS Form 4506-T, which allows the SBA to access tax records. Some sites also landed on the Treasury Department’s Do Not Pay (DNP) list after owners’ Social Security numbers were incorrectly linked to deceased people.
Hartke says these issues caused anxiety for thousands of applicants, who had to prove they weren’t dead.
“It seems there is no rhyme or reason why people have reported issues with their accounts when there are no real issues,” he says.
Despite entering bank information with the application at the end of April, Hartke said that an Oklahoma site that had received an award notification was asked to resubmit its bank account information.
“There is certainly some frustration on the part of this particular place owner. He has an urgent need and he has to resubmit information that they already have. This will extend the time he waits, ”says Hartke. “We are optimistic, but we are losing hope. The SBA has told us so many different things that haven’t come to fruition. The feeling [amongst venue owners] at this point, it is that of lost faith.
The Palace Theater in Albany, New York, was one of the first concert halls to receive its award notification on May 27. According to the Director of Finance of the Palace Theater Julia Elbaum, the site received the funds into its account on June 4 – eight days after receiving its award notification.
“While the prize / funding is great for the Palace, it is very distressing to know that our industry as a whole is suffering,” Elbaum said. Billboard. “A road show / number isn’t just limited to Albany, New York. They have to be able to travel / get to multiple places for things to work, so being the only place to receive an award doesn’t really solve the problem. problem We have to save the industry.
Chilton says he’s still worried about the slow deployment, but is also optimistic things will improve.
“Many sites made the decision to keep instead of shutting down when the aid plan was approved, not knowing how long it would take,” he noted. “In the end, it saved many sites from shutting down after the first of the year, but the delays make it harder and harder for people to hang around.”