NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Thursday, small music venues can begin applying for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, a program created to give more federal money to concert venues that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant program was created by the Save Our Stages Act, which passed by Congress in December. Lawmakers stressed the need to get additional aid to music venues, who have not been able to operate for most of the pandemic.
But as the application period opened, some people in the music industry said the program doesn't go far enough and leaves out other small businesses that should be able to get more funding.
"There are tens of thousands of people that earn their living through selling concessions, doing sound and light, selling tickets... but there are those within the SBA who want to exclude those groups of people," Michael Strickland said. Strickland is the founder of Bandit Lites, a Tennessee-based concert lighting company.
Strickland said the way the is law written, those small businesses should be included in the grant program. But early guidance from the Small Business Administration has made it seem like those applications could be denied, something he said would have a major impact on the music industry.
"If you pull out any one block, the industry collapses. You have to have the venues, but you have to have the artists, and you have to have the sound, and you have to have the lights. We're all interdependent on each other."
Now he's hoping everybody in the industry has access to help.
"The venues cant make it any longer we know that, but neither can the stagehands, or the caterers, or the wardrobe people," he said.