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Local entertainment businesses waiting for SBA grants

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 18:11:26-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It’s been now more than two months since local entertainment venues like Rec Room Buffalo applied for Federal money as part of the Shuttered Venue Operator’s Grant with the United States Small Business Association.

“Getting this money yesterday was still too late,” said Chris Ring, Owner of Rec Room. “We really needed this money when the portal opened.”

Applications started to be filed in April.

“It’s just not fast enough,” he said. “Not getting the venues that needed the money most. I think you’re going to see a lot of venues shutter because they didn’t see the money in time.”

Ring is also a representative for the National Independent Venue Association, representing theaters and other entertainment businesses who are waiting for money.

“They have gone on record saying they hope to award all members by the 4th of July, but their daily turnaround time doesn’t add up,” he said.

For the SVOG program, there is $16 billion available for shuttered venues. Eligible applications could qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue from 2019. The maximum single grant is $10 million.

According to numbers from the SBA, out of 14,000 applications submitted, 1,445 grants have been approved so far.

North Park Theatre in North Buffalo was just approved Tuesday.

“We have asked for $200,000 so we’re hoping it’s on that scale,” said program director Ray Barker.

Barker says it’s unclear how much North Park will actually get in grant money.

“Relief being delayed is relief being denied,” said United States Congressman Brian Higgins. Higgins says he’s penned a letter to the administration for the SBA demanding answers as to why it’s taking so long for these applications to process.

“A lot of these performance venues have very tight margins,” he said.

You can still apply for the SVOG program by clicking here.