" This pits places against each other because we're all crazy for it, "Mr. Sosa said in an interview. “And it shouldn't be. We are all a community. "
For companies like Crowbar, a music club in Tampa, Florida, getting a grant is a matter of survival. Tom DeGeorge, the principal owner of Crowbar, has taken out over $ 200,000 in personal loans to keep the business afloat after it closed last year, including one using his liquor license as collateral.
More a year later, the club reopened with a handful of downsized events, but the business is still operating in the red, DeGeorge said in an interview.
"We wasted an entire year of concerts in the blink of an eye, which was almost a million dollars in revenue," DeGeorge said. is why we need this grant so much. ”
Aid was authorized by Congress late last year after months of lobbying through an ad hoc coalition of concert halls and other groups who have warned of the loss of an entire sector of the arts economy.
For music venues in particular, the past year has been a rush to stay afloat, with local club owners running crowdfunding campaigns, selling t-shirts and digging their heels head to come up with a creative way to raise funds. For the holidays, the Chicago Underground Club, for example, agreed to place the names of clients on its marquee for donations of $ 250 or more.
busiest year, "said Robert Gomez, the main owner of Subterranean, in an interview. " But it's all about: 'Where are you going I get funds? ' Image As it struggled to make ends meet, the Chicago Subterranean club decided to place client names on the club's marquee for donations of $ 250 or more. Robert Gomez, son princiowner pal, said that the year had "been all about," Where am I going to get funding from? Credit ... Lyndon French for Hfrance.fr
Even before Thursday's fiasco, the opening of the closed rooms program was fraught with complexity and of confusion.
The Small Business Administration released a 58-page guide for applicants on Wednesday night, then quickly took it offline. A revised version of the guide was released a few minutes before the portal opened on Thursday. (A spokeswoman for the agency said the guide needs to be updated to reflect "some last minute system changes".)
And less than two hours before the agency starts accepting applications, its Inspector Generalral sent an alert warning of "serious problems " with the program's waste and fraud controls. The Small Business Administration's current audit plan "exposes billions of dollars to potential misuse. f fonds ", the Inspector General written in report .
Successful applicants will receive a grant equal to 45% of their gross earned income from 2019, up to $ 10 million. Those who have lost 90% of their income ( compared to the previous year) after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will have a window of14 day priority to receive the money, followed by another 14 day period for those who lost 70% or more. If there is any money left after that, it will go to applicants who have experienced a 25% loss in sales in at least one quarter of 2020. Sites owned by large companies, like Live Nation or AEG, are not eligible.
The application process is lengthy, with detailed questions about budgets, staff and site equipment.
"They want to make sure you don't just put a piano in a corner of an Italian restaurant and call you a concert hall," said Blayne Tucker, lawyer for several musical spaces in Texas. Image Technical issues spoiled the start of the first day of submitting applications for the grant program. Empty chairs were seen in Crowbar. Credit ... Zack Wittman for Hfrance.fr
Even with grants, concert halls can face several dry months before tours and live events return to pre-pandemic levels.
The grant program also provides assistance to Broadway theaters, performing arts centers and even zoos, which share many of the same economic struggles.
LThe Pablo Center at the Confluence, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for example, was able to raise around $ 1 million from donations and grants during the pandemic, but it is still $ 1.2 million short of its spending in the world. 'Annual fixed operations,' said Jason Jon Anderson, its executive director.
"By the time we open again, October 2021 at the earliest, we will have been closed longer than we had been ", he added. (The center opened in 2018, at a cost of $ 60 million.)
The thousands of small clubs that dot the national concert map have no access to major donors and, in many cases, they have survived on the fumes for months.
Stephen Chilton, owner of the 300-seat Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, said he had withdrawn "a few hundred thousand loans for maintenance.r the club afloat. In October, it reopened with a pop-up cafe inside, and the club hosts events, like quiz contests and open mic shows.
"We lose a lot less than what we lost when we were completely closed," said Mr Chilton, "but that does not make up for the lost revenue by organizing events. "
The Rebel Lounge is hoping a grant will help him survive until he can bring back a full range of concerts. What if its application is not accepted?
"There is no plan B ", a said Mr. Chilton.