Harder Urges Administration to Speed Up Delivery of Shuttered Venue Operators Grants

June 15, 2021
Press Release
After 2 months of delays, only 3% of applications to the program have been reviewed so far

WASHINGTON — Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) urged the Small Business Administration (SBA) to increase their speed in delivering the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants intended to help reopen thousands of closed venues across the country. As it stands after two months of the program being open, only 3% of applications for the grant have even been reviewed by the federal government. Modesto’s Gallo Center for the Arts applied for the program in April and has received no word from the SBA since.


Rep. Josh Harder and Gallo Center for the Arts CEO Lynn Dickerson are available to discuss their work pushing the SBA to speed up the delivery of these funds.


“Our stages, bars, movie theaters, museums, and concert halls are the hearts of so many communities here in the Valley,” said Rep. Harder. “We passed over $16 billion in help for these small businesses months ago, and it’s ridiculous that they still haven’t seen a dime of that money. I’ll be pushing the SBA until they deliver the help our folks need to recover from this pandemic and rebuild for the future.”


“While we are very grateful for the Federal government’s financial help and recognition that performing arts venues were hit very hard by the COVID-19 shutdown (literally the first to shut down and the last to reopen), we are very frustrated with how long the funding process is taking,” said Gallo Center for the Arts Chief Executive Officer Lynn Dickerson. “Many arts organizations throughout our country operate with minimal cash reserves.  Having to wait months and months for our applications to be reviewed and funded is beyond frustrating.  Performing arts venues need this funding to bring their employees back and reopen their doors.”


Read the full letter below and online here.


Dear Administrator Guzman,


I write today urging the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite processing applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program and rapidly send out funds to approved applicants. These grants are needed to provide venues the working capital necessary to cover reopening costs after over a year of closures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.


The opaque rollout of the SVOG has left venues in my community frustrated and without a clear timeline on the processing of their applications. As of June 14th, only 561 of the over 15,000 applications have been reviewed. This follows two months of delays, starting with the website portal crash on April 8th that postponed the program opening to April 28th. While the SBA recently announced that it would process 10,000 applications by July 4, this alarmingly slow rate of review puts that goal into serious jeopardy. 


Venues are struggling to make ends meet and considering closing their venue permanently because they lack the resources. These businesses shape our communities, support our local economies, and help make the Valley what it is. These funds are needed now more than ever. If the slow pace of the SVOG program continues, these venues that the program was designed to help may no longer be around to receive it. 


I urge that to SBA expedite the application review process and distribute funds swiftly so that venue operators in my community can keep their businesses afloat. I look forward to a prompt response and timely action.