Show me the money: Dayton Live calls for release of pandemic emergency funds

·2 min read

Jun. 10—Dayton Live is gearing up for a blockbuster 2021-2022 season but is joining other national arts groups calling for the immediate and full release of emergency funds from the Small Business Administration.

The $16.1 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, signed into law in December 2020, provides eligible movie theaters, live venue operators and promoters, talent representatives, and performing arts organizations with grants equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million.

Currently, SBA errors and delays have put businesses and organizations at risk, including Dayton Live, the organization said in a press release. The SBA missed its June 9 deadline to grant funds to those businesses suffering 90 percent or more losses and to begin making grants to the second tier of businesses suffering 70 percent or more losses.

More than 4,910 small business owners in the first priority period, those with the greatest need, and an additional 10,000 independent businesses that fall into the second and third priority periods, are still waiting for emergency relief funding, according to the release. As of June 9, the SBA reported it had awarded a total of 90 grants.

"The continued and lengthy delays from the Small Business Administration on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant funding is bringing arts organizations of all shapes and sizes to a breaking point," said Ty Sutton, president and CEO of Dayton Live, in a statement. "Local venues and arts organizations — small businesses that Dayton Live has been advocating on behalf of — have a pressing need for this funding. Dayton Live stands with the proposals and statements from key national arts and venue organizations, many of which we are members."

"The nationwide recovery of the live arts and entertainment ecosystem depends on the successful delivery of this vital federal relief," said Lisa Richards Toney, president and CEO of Association of Performing Arts Professionals, in a news release. "As the performing arts venues and organizations that are the fabric of communities across America, we are proud of collective efforts to fight for our survival, and we are rallying to cross the finish line."

SVOG stakeholders said they are experiencing a talent drain, cannot reopen, and are hanging on by a thread due to funding not arriving quickly enough. The overall fear is that small businesses in particular will close due to no fault of their own.

"It's unconscionable that this has taken more than six months with little result," added Sutton.