The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that the application portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program will go back online Monday morning.
The program allows movie theaters, stage theaters and other entertainment venue operators to apply for grants equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million, to make up for lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many live entertainment venues have had to limit their operations or stay completely closed for the past year.
Funding for the program was included in the federal COVID-19 relief package passed in December, but the SBA still needed to develop the rules and application system, and venue owners spent the next three months waiting for the announcement of a launch date.
The online application portal was originally scheduled to go live on April 8, but Clark County venue owners who tried to apply that day reported that a glitch prevented applicants from uploading any supporting documents.
The SBA took the system offline after a few hours and said that there were technical difficulties that would need to be addressed. The agency did not immediately provide a relaunch date, but stated that businesses would receive advance notice once a data was selected.
Several local theater owners told The Columbian that they received that heads-up message in emails sent late Thursday night. An updated message on the SBA website today confirmed the new date and time.
Multiple Clark County venue owners said they were eager to apply and are in urgent need of a financial boost. Some local theaters have reopened in the past month, including the Battle Ground Cinema multiplex and the Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver, but the owners reported that customer traffic has been too low to achieve financially sustainable operations.