Music venue owners left waiting for federal aid program

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Posted at 8:04 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 09:10:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Last Thursday, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program started accepting applications, but the grant's website is still offline as federal officials try and fix technical issues.

The program, which was created by the Save Our Stages Act, aims to provide relief to small, independent concert halls who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're in similar situations, all the independent venues. Some of us the situation are more dire than others," Travis Collinsworth said. Collinsworth is co-owner of The 5 Spot, a venue in East Nashville.

When Collinsworth tried to access the SVOG website when applications opened, he wasn't able to log in.

"It would not accept my login or my password, so I've pretty much been in that holding pattern since then," Collinsworth said. "When you combine a limited pool of money with a first come first serve basis, and every one longing on at the same time, it was a recipe for something less than ideal to happen."

The program had already faced criticism for taking months to get set up. The glitches delayed the roll-out even longer.

Collinsworth said The 5 Spot was able to get additional federal help last month.

"I was able to secure a second round of PPP kind of as a tide to get us until the SVOG kicks in, and that's because our situation wasn't great," Collinsworth said. "I know not every one was as fortunate or not every one chose to do PPP round two because they were expecting SVOG to come through."

Still, Collinsworth says he's grateful for the help -- whenever it arrives.

"I'm very appreciative to have the program in place and to have this opportunity and its going to be huge to all of us, once we're able to actually access it," he said.