Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today introduced the “SOS Extension Act,” which would extend the timeline for using Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grants, created by his bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, from the end of 2021 to spring of 2023.
The move is largely inspired by the six-month-plus delay between the $16 billion “Save Our Stages” Covid relief act being passed into law in December and independent venues and theaters actually beginning to receive funds; in June the SBA overhauled the management of the program and funds began going out in earnest. Cornyn and Klobuchar are authors of the act, which received widespread support in Congress and throughout the entertainment industry.
The act would merely extend the timeline, and not call for additional funds.
“Struggling entertainment venues waited months for SBA to distribute relief after the passage of Save Our Stages, and now these small businesses, many of which are still shuttered, may lose the grant funds they need to survive the pandemic,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation would allow these independent music venues, theatres, and dance halls more time to spend these funds wisely instead of forcing them into a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.”
“Last year, we refused to sit back and let the music die, which is why we passed the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I’m proud to introduce this legislation to extend the timeline for venues to use this relief funding, helping to ensure they’ll be able to make ends meet and keep serving our communities for generations to come.”
The Save Our Stages Act was signed into law as part of the omnibus funding bill on Dec. 27, 2020. Given months-long delays from the SBA in launching this program and disbursing the grants, many venue owners are struggling to use their funding by the end of December, forcing them spend millions in only three months while their venues remain shuttered due to COVID restrictions. Unless this deadline is extended, venues could have to return billions of their grant dollars to the SBA.