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‘There’s only so much patience’| Music venues still waiting to receive emergency COVID-19 relief funding months later

Congress approved a $16 billion grant back in December, but so far fewer than 100 grant applicants have received a payment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For months, it has been a waiting game for music venues in Charlotte and all across the country struggling to stay open and keep business afloat without the help of a much-needed federal grant.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) previously known as Save our Stages was first approved by Congress in December to include a $16 billion boost for those businesses involving music and live performances. Back in April, more than 13,000 businesses applied to get a piece of this grant money, but so far only 70 have been granted money.

“It’s been a very frustrating process, “said Gregg McGraw with MaxxMusic, the talent buyer for NoDa’s Neighborhood Theatre. “We didn’t have any revenue since March of last year so all of our reserves are gone. We’re opening, we’re trying to stay open, but it’s not certain.”

The Evening Muse is another local venue also still waiting for payment and one of those in the Priority 1 grouping after experience more than 90% revenue loss. The SBA promised those in this category would receive their money by June 9, but so far nothing.

“There's only so much patience," Joe Kuhlmann, co-owner of The Evening Muse said. "It’s imperative that this faucet gets turned on and the checks start flowing.” 

Many music venues say they plan to use the money to book acts, make improvements to the facilities, pay back-owed rent and utilities and pay employees.

“Every day that ticks by is another potential music venue that could be lost across the country," Kuhlmann said.

Music venues are also asking fans to write to local lawmakers to request they apply pressure to the SBA and ensure the grant money is distributed as soon as possible.

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