Dear APAP Members and Colleagues,
Today marks 165 days since the passage of the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program. And while we are extremely grateful for this unprecedented level of federal relief for the live arts and entertainment industry, we are deeply concerned with the obstacles to its successful execution and ultimately to it delivering the support our field needs to recover.

For this reason, we urge you to take a few minutes to contact your Congressional representatives today to share concerns regarding these delays. We offer a sample email below.  

On our last call with the SBA, they indicated that they intended to process thousands of Priority 1 applications by the end of the priority period today. According to their last report and the collective monitoring by our stakeholder group of members across the U.S., as of yesterday, the SBA has appeared to have processed only a fraction of these applications.

While we still hold out the slim hope that thousands of our colleagues will receive good news today, we feel it is vital that we inform Congress that the delivery of award notifications and money is at barely a trickle.

Removing the interagency barriers (such as the 4506-T requirement and the Do Not Pay lists) for eligible entities and releasing 50% of funds immediately to approved applicants are two solutions APAP is currently proposing.

There are colleagues among us who have been devastated by the pandemic and who are now weeks, or days, away from having their businesses shuttered forever. Thousands of live arts organizations can't yet fully reopen until funding is delivered. We encourage you to send the following message to your Congressional representatives today, and to include YOUR story.

We are stronger together.

The APAP Team
Dear [Mr./Ms. Congressional Member Name],

Sadly, the help Congress secured for us by enacting the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program has yet to arrive. While the rest of the country begins reopening, our businesses cannot reopen – not because of COVID-19 – but because we are still waiting on emergency relief from the SBA to provide us with working capital for the necessary costs of reopening.

  • 165 days (5 ½ months) after enactment of the law and 45 days (1 ½ months) after the SVOG application portal opened (the second time, after the failed launch on April 8) fewer than 100 grant applications have been approved.

  • Today marks the last day of the 14-day Priority 1 period in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) was supposed to process all applications for applicants experiencing greater than 90 percent revenue loss. There are nearly 5,000 such applications and SBA has only communicated that 50 applications have been processed.

  • The SBA hired 500 reviewers for the SVOG program with funds appropriated by Congress. If each analyzed just one application a day, 17,000 applications would have been processed by now. But yet, the SBA has processed fewer than 100 applications in the six weeks since the application portal opened.
  • More than 4,950 small business owners in the first priority period, those with the greatest need, and an additional 10,000 small businesses that fall into the second and third priority periods are still waiting for emergency relief funding. They are scared, frustrated, angry, exhausted, feeling abused, and wondering if desperately needed help will ever arrive.  

  • December 27, 2020: SVOG program enacted into law.

  • March 22, 2021: Isabella Casillas Guzman sworn in as SBA Administrator.

  • April 8, 2021: SVOG application portal opens, crashes and is closed.

  • April 26, 2021: SVOG application portal reopens successfully.

  • May 4, 2021: The SBA reports it “began reviewing the SVOG applications upon receipt and it is expected SVOG Priority 1 (90% revenue loss) applicants will receive notice of awards this month and disbursement by the end of May if they respond in a timely manner to the notice of award.” This did not happen.
  • May 26, 2021: Administrator Guzman testified before the House and Senate Small Business Committees that SVOG grants have started, and while it would be slow at first but there would be a ramp up. This did not happen.

  • June 3, 2021: SBA reported just 50 award notices (very few of which have actually received emergency relief funds) had been issued. Since then, there has been no update on the number of applicants receiving award notices despite SBA promising stakeholders and Congress that updates would be provided daily.

  • June 9, 2021: The last day of the 14-day Priority 1 period in which SBA was supposed to process all applications for applicants experiencing greater than 90 percent revenue loss. There are nearly 5,000 such applications and SBA has only communicated that 50 applications have been processed.
Many of us are past our breaking point. We can’t hang on any longer. We want to participate in America’s economic recovery, but our venues and businesses can’t afford to reopen and restart. We have no funds left - many of us have exhausted our PPP loans, our EIDL loans and whatever assistance we’ve been able to garner at the State and Local levels. We are losing professional staff to well-capitalized, larger corporate competitors. Because of this delay, many of us are losing ground and may not be able to recover.
The SBA, whose sole purpose is to help small businesses, is demonstrating a lack of ability to execute this desperately needed emergency relief program. The SBA’s delay is driving many of our small businesses under – all while the $16.25 billion in emergency funding waits to be administered.
We come to you once more to ask that you reach out to the White House and SBA to urge them to do whatever possible to get this funding into the hands of small businesses owners to Save Our Stages.