[Editor Charlie sez: It almost makes you think that Live Nation is waiting for the competition to die off and then cherry pick the venues they want to buy out of bankruptcy.]
Thousands of performance venues thought last week would mark the end of a long wait for rescue funds from a federal program designed to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.
They were wrong.
The Small Business Administration opened the program — a $16 billion initiative meant to offer grants to concert halls, theaters and museums — on April 8, but shut down the application portal hours later, citing technical glitches. An SBA spokeswoman said Friday the agency was working to test the application portal’s functionality, and aiming to reopen it by the end of next week.
“We know this funding is urgently needed now and are doing all we can to reopen with the greatest amount of certainty as possible,” the spokeswoman said….
Jobs figures reflect the hardships facing the industry. While employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry has increased this year, Labor Department data show there were still roughly 708,000 fewer jobs in the sector during March 2021 than in February 2020, just before the pandemic accelerated in the U.S.
“Every day, every hour that ticks by is one day closer to death, and that is the case for many venues across the country,” Stephen Tyler, a managing partner at Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, said of the grant program’s delayed opening.
Revenue at Tower Theatre, a concert and events space that holds about 1,000 people and shows films, was down 95% between March and December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, Mr. Tyler said.
“If this goes on long enough, it is absolutely realistic that this could crush this whole segment of the industry. Candidly, we’re right at the end,” he said.
A critical $16.25 billion grant program to sustain thousands of small creative venues that haven’t been able to open since the pandemic began has yet to deliver a cent of relief four months after passage, due to delays and faulty technology at the Small Business Administration (SBA). A website constructed to take grant applications closed last week after only four hours online, because of constant crashes and an inability to intake documents. It has not been restored and there’s no timetable for its return….
The disastrous situation is an example of how passing a bill is only the beginning of the policy process. Too many pundits have skipped right ahead to measuring President Biden for Mount Rushmore based on one piece of emergency legislation. But he will likely rise or fall on implementation; if beloved music venues and theaters close across the country because the SBA can’t manage a functioning website, all the legislation in the world won’t matter.