Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today introduced the “SOS Extension Act,” which would extend the timeline for using Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grants, created by his bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, from the end of 2021 to spring of 2023.
The move is largely inspired by the six-month-plus delay between the $16 billion “Save Our Stages” Covid relief act being passed into law in December and independent venues and theaters actually beginning to receive funds; in June the SBA overhauled the management of the program and funds began going out in earnest. Cornyn and Klobuchar are authors of the act, which has received widespread support in Congress and throughout the entertainment industry.
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The act would merely extend the timeline, and not call for additional funds. A rep for the National Independent Venue Association pointed out two factors that have made the extension necessary: As enacted, initial grant awards must be used for costs incurred by December 31, 2021. However, many eligible small business owners were not in a position to incur normal costs until they were certain their application was approved. They have been delayed in efforts to rehire employees; repay rent, mortgages, and utilities; or conduct upgrades to HVAC systems to mitigate the spread of COVID until they received the emergency relief. These small businesses need more time to properly utilize their grants as the statute dictates.
Also, as the the continuing pandemic and COVID-19 variants have deeply complicated the reopenings for these venues as well as the entire country — not to mention changing guidelines and varying restrictions at state and local levels — the venues need a longer timeframe for use of these funds.
The organizations which support the Save Our Stages Extension Act include Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Broadway Across America, Coalition of Performing Arts Centers, League of American Orchestras, League of Historic American Theatres, National Association of Theater Owners, National Independent Talent Organization, National Independent Venue Association, Performing Arts Alliance, Performing Arts Managers and Agents Coalition, Preservation Hall Foundation, The Broadway League, and Theatre Communications Group.
“Struggling entertainment venues waited months for SBA to distribute relief after the passage of Save Our Stages, and now these small businesses, many of which are still shuttered, may lose the grant funds they need to survive the pandemic,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation would allow these independent music venues, theatres, and dance halls more time to spend these funds wisely instead of forcing them into a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.”
“Last year, we refused to sit back and let the music die, which is why we passed the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I’m proud to introduce this legislation to extend the timeline for venues to use this relief funding, helping to ensure they’ll be able to make ends meet and keep serving our communities for generations to come.”
“We’re grateful that once again we have bipartisan support as we navigate as gathering places in the throes of this challenging time,” said Dayna Frank, President of the Board for the National Independent Venue Association and CEO of First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis. “These grants truly have saved our businesses, and with added time, we’ll be in the best position to maximize the use of taxpayers’ funds responsibly, ensuring our ability to thrive, hire employees, and be the economic engines of our communities.”
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