Take Two: Shuttered Venue Operators Can Apply For Funds Monday

Jilly's Music Room in Akron closed since March 2020 is one of the thousands of shuttered venues eligible to receive federal dollars from the US government.
Jilly's Music Room in Akron closed since March 2020 is one of the thousands of shuttered venues eligible to receive federal dollars from the US government. [Jill Bacon Madden]

Updated: Friday, April 23, at 7:15 p.m.

Earlier this month, Jill Bacon Madden was up early and ready for a long day in front of the computer.

Her plan was to apply for the federal dollars she's been waiting for ever since her Akron club, Jilly's Music Room, closed to the public in March 2020, due to the pandemic. 

The application was for the Small Business Adminstration's Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, scheduled to go online April 8.

Jilly's Music Room in Akron [Jill Bacon Madden]

With dozens of documents at the ready, including tax, payroll and marketing information, Madden said it was like prepping for a final exam, only worse.

"And then you jump on the site and you wait. We weren't sure what time the site was going to open because the SBA hadn't announced it at all until the day before, which was very hair raising... So there were all of these unknowns. When is the portal going to open? And up until the day before, they didn't have a user guide available for people to help them get through this application," Madden said.

Then, to make things worse, the SBA online application portal failed, delaying the process by more than two weeks.

Thursday night, the SBA announced on its Twitter account that it had "completed rigorous testing," and that the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal would reopen Saturday.

Friday evening, the SBA changed the date again to Monday at noon, citing "response to stakeholder feedback." 

Earlier Friday, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) alerted its members to the following:

*  For technical questions, applicants can call 1-800-659-2955.

*  No new documents are required with previous signatures and dates still valid.

*  An online waiting room will help with capacity issues.

While the new process is encouraging, Madden is anxious about what comes next.

"What happens once you hit 'submit' with your application? How long is it going to take them to go through these things? And how long will it take to distribute money to anyone? I'm not as confident in this whole process as I was when it first started," she said.

Jilly's Music Room remains closed.

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